Judging from the interest in the other assessments, I thought perhaps someone might also like to look at the secondary level PARCC end-of-course assessment results for Algebra I. They can be accessed by clicking the following link:
However, more caution should be used in examining these Algebra I PARCC results than with any others listed. There are several extremely important differences in how the Algebra I assessment is given and reported that make it quite unique.
Caveats of the 2014-2015 PARCC Algebra I results:
Algebra I is unique in that students may take it during the middle school years (typically the 8th grade). These middle school students who took Algebra I in 2014-2015, all took the end-of-course PARCC Algebra I assessment just as their high school counterparts did. In many school districts across the state, the decision is made to allow students who have demonstrated advanced achievement in 7th grade mathematics to take Algebra I in the 8th grade in order to “get a jump” on the accumulation of high school credits. This “jump” might pay off by freeing up the student to take more advanced electives, dual-credit/enrollment, or AP courses later in high school. Why is this important when analyzing results reported by school?
- In a situation where a district has a separate elementary, junior high, or middle school which includes an 7th or 8th grade and has Algebra I testers, those results will show up under the elem/jr. high/middle school where they took it. This has a two-fold effect. First, the school with the junior high test takers will typically have extremely high test scores as the more advanced students are typically enrolled in the course (with some exceptional cases at schools where the total opposite might be taking place for strategic reasons with polar opposite results). Second, the school where those students typically move on to the 9th grade (the “high school”) will typically now have extremely lower Algebra I scores on average due to the fact that the upper achieving students have already taken the course in the 8th grade at the elem/jr. high/middle school where they were the year before. Thus, middle schools will typically have extremely higher scores in comparison to all other school types.
- In some school districts these extremes do not take place at all and results are not skewed due to the “split” between taking Algebra I in the middle school grades. This occurs for three typical reasons. First, some districts have a blanket policy that no student, regardless of achievement, will be able to take Algebra I before 9th grade. Thus, in those schools all students’ scores will fall under the high school in which they enter the 9th grade. The only exception to this is a few schools across the state that include the 9th grade in their middle school or have a middle school made only of 9th graders. This 9th grade middle school scenario is extremely rare in Mississippi, but it does exist causing further skewing of results when attempting to compare schools head to head. Second, there are a fair number of high schools which include 7th – 12th grades. In these combined 7th – 12th high schools, no skewing takes place as all Algebra I test takers are reported under the one school name regardless of the grade they take the course. Third, there are a minority of K-12 schools still left across the state. These schools have the same situation as the 7th – 12th grade high schools listed previously, in that they will not have skewing of results as takes place in the “caveat #1” schools listed above.
- In an ideal situation, one might compare three categories of schools’ Algebra I results. The first category being elem/jr. high/middle schools with students taking Algebra I in the 7th/8th grade. The second category being high schools which receive students from those type of elem/jr. high/middle schools which allow Algebra I to be taken. The third category being made up of K-12 attendance centers and 7th – 12th high schools whose scores reflect all of their Algebra I students regardless of grade level.
- In the real world, these categories must be taken into consideration when comparing schools (district comparisons are not affected because all students regardless of grade level taking Algebra I end up under the umbrella of the particular district’s results). However, attempting to show these distinctions when examining statewide results is impossible without the state supplying information about each schools grade levels (and perhaps even their philosophy or rules regarding students taking Algebra I). Since my ranking rely on publicly available data, I have to use my own judgement as to what category a school might fall under.
Due to these very important caveats, I have made my best attempt to show this distinction of results by making two categories for ranking schools. The first category includes K-12 attendance centers and all high schools that have a 9th grade (including both 7th-12th & 9th-12th high schools). The second category includes elementary, junior high, and high schools which do not have a 9th grade. These categories are not perfect as some schools (such as those very rare 9th grade only schools) have to be lumped into one category or the other even though they are unique situations. Also, some schools names may not reflect their actual grade levels (such as Nowhereville High School which despite its name is actually a K-12 attendance center) resulting in me accidentally placing them in an inappropriate category. However, I feel the attempt must be made to show at least these two category distinctions or else the results would make little sense (with middle schools virtually dominating the top half of the rankings for the reasons listed above).
Despite the long-winded dissertation, I hope these results provide information which you find beneficial.