Friday, May 9, 2014

Puzzling over Fleming County High School results

On the one hand, the Herald-Leader reports that a state audit has said that that Fleming County high school's principal "should be removed because of a lack of academic progress."

On the other hand, Fleming's school report card says the school's overall score went up nearly five points in one year, putting it in the 87th percentile of schools statewide.  Here's a screenshot:
Puzzled, I went to another level of detail, checking out the five components that make up that overall score:

Here's what I see in these numbers:
  • In achievement and in gap, Fleming is clearly behind state average. Those two results come from K-PREP scores.
  • On growth, Fleming is just slightly above state average. The growth measure  looks at how individual students' reading and math scores changed from grade 10 to grade 11.
  • In graduation, Fleming  has a nice, but not vast, lead over the state.
  • It's readiness that soars above the state, based on students qualifying as ready for college and career as measured by ACT and other tests of readiness for college and career.
  • Finally, the overall score is an average of the other five elements, treating all five as having equal weight, rather like a grade point average--and Fleming County High comes out ahead of the state average for high schools.
Looking at it all,  I can see an argument for weak results, based on achievement and gap, and I can see an argument for great results, based on readiness and graduation.  From the overall score, it looks like state policy sees the combined results as pretty strong.

So far, I've ended up with a new puzzle: How can a school's readiness results be so different from achievement?  I think the two approaches are supposed to be measuring the same students on roughly the same content and skills--but clearly they're identifying quite different views of this particular school.


  1. This is quite silly, I think. The critical question is about the "gap" score. If this is scored in such a way that a lower score is positive (i.e.there is less gap between groups) and higher one, negative, then this is quite silly. All the others are scored in the opposite direction...the higher, the better. The score of 63 is the result ONLY if low gap scores are bad....If low gap scores are good, then those with small gap between "groups" are being punished by this formula!!!

  2. So, in Kentucky, the Gap score sums up the test results for students in a large Gap group that includes low-income students, students with disabilities or limited English proficiency, and African-American and Hispanic students. Higher scores are definitely positive in this design. I apologize for using the too-quick Kentucky shorthand!

  3. Thanks, Susan! Someone should change the label...for sure!!! That score is driving the outcome, for sure. That's their problem....Interesting...


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