Monday, October 7, 2013

Which groups and subjects moved toward proficiency?

Statewide, which subjects and groups showed growth, strong growth, or decline from 2012 to 2013?

Trying to see a complex pattern fairly whole, I'm trying a format that shows just the change in scores, color-coded with red for declines, white for scores that were flat or improved less than four points, and green for scores that grew four points or more.   Here, I'll share a separate chart for each level of school.

At the elementary level, reading and science showed declines for multiple groups, and small growth for a few.  Writing and language mechanics showed showed strong growth for multiple groups and moderate growth for most others.  Math and social studies showed mainly moderate growth.

Zooming in on groups, the Gap Group and the disability group had growth in every subject, and free and reduced-price meal students had only one decline.

Zooming back out to all students, there were three declines. The writing and language mechanics growth are plusses, but they don't make the reading, science, and social studies results seem okay.

In middle school, reading and language mechanics showed strong or moderate growth for every group.  Math and science, though, showed declines or small growth for every group, and social studies and writing showed declines or small to moderate growth as well.

Among student groups, the Gap Group and students with disabilities or free & reduced price meal eligibility showed growth in all subjects, while Asian students showed a worrisome decline in three subjects.

For all students, there was growth in five subjects and a decline in one, though the mathematics result is a razor-thin 0.1 percent improvement.

At the high school level, mathematics shows a decline for every group except students with disabilities, and social studies shows increases--big increases--for every student group.  Reading and writing are thoroughly mixed pictures with declines, growth, and strong growth depending the group in question.  Language mechanics shows only declines and small improvements.

Looking at group patterns, students with disabilities improved in every subject, and the Gap, free and reduced meal, and African American groups improved in all but one--with most of those results being quite strong.   Students with limited English proficiency declined in all but one subject, and Asian students declined in three of six.

For all students, the pattern is strong growth in science, social studies and writing, moderate growth in reading and a small uptick in language mechanics, but a disturbing decline in mathematics.

Looking at the whole sweeping picture, I think the spotlight developments are:
  • Successes for the Gap group, free and reduced meal students, and students with disabilities.
  • Weaknesses for students with limited English proficiency and African-American, Asian, Hispanic students.
  • Growth in elementary writing and language mechanics, middle school reading and language mechanics, and high school science and social studies.
  • Troubling declines in elementary reading and science, middle school mathematics and science, and high school mathematics.
Finally, one huge caveat about this method: it's about movement.  To make that simpler and easy to see, it leaves out the starting and ending points for each group.  That's not a small matter. In high school math, students with disabilities showed the only growth, but they still have only 11.1 percent proficiency.  Asian students, meanwhile, showed the steepest decline in that subject but have 66.4 percent proficiency after that loss.  Both change in proficiency and levels of proficiency matter, and this approach is  helpful only for seeing the change part of the story.

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