School test numbers game | Arkansas Blog

Friday, June 18, 2010

School test numbers game

Posted By on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 6:53 AM

There was an extensive report today in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of Little Rock School District test scores (only LRSD, not NLR and Pulaski County) against state averages and local charter school averages. District scores generally were up significantly this year, but they remain lower on average than state averages and those of some charter schools.

It is folly to compare state averages against a single school district when the demographic profiles are so different. It is folly to compare a single district's average against another district's or charter school's averages without knowing how their demographic profiles compare.

The reality is that black students score much lower than white students on standardized tests. The same for poor students. LRSD is 70 percent black. The state is, what, about 15 percent black? (UPDATE: 22 percent of public school students are black, while 68 percent of LRSD students, to be precise, are black, reader Doc says.)

The meaningful comparisons are of similar groups of students — white v. white, black v. black, Latino v. Latino, poor v. poor, special ed v. special ed. It might be that LRSD wouldn't fare so well by these relevant comparisons. You don't know that — can't know it — from reading the article this morning. But I suspect a buttressing editorial shortly singing the praises of (certain) charter schools. That the kids are whiter, richer and far more likely to be "counseled out" for non-performance (an option unavailable to conventional pubic schools) isn't likely to be addressed.

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