SchoolDigger Ratings of Mississippi Schools: A Brief Critique

Many of us may have seen the ratings website SchoolDigger with its ranking of schools in Mississippi based upon their Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) scores.  You might also notice that these ratings based upon the same assessment give different rankings from the ones I may share on this blog.  Well, truthfully, no one, with the exception of myself, may have paid much attention to the difference.  However, I wanted to mention what it is SchoolDigger is showing and why, in my opinion, its methodology is not the best way to look at assessment results for our Mississippi schools or districts.

SchoolDigger is a great website in many ways.  It gives information on free/reduced lunch rates and student to teacher ratios, which are both valuable to know for our schools.  But, we need to understand what they are showing and using to determine their school rankings and ratings.  SchoolDigger primarily uses the “average standard score” to rank schools.  Basically, the “standard score” they are referring to is the MAAP assessment scores converted to a normal percent-style grade that most of us are familiar with from our days in the classroom.  This conversion of the score (scale score) to a percent (standard score) is not really the problem.  The problem comes into play when SchoolDigger then takes all of those scores for every student in the school taking that particular assessment that year and averages them together to give their “average standard score.”  The site then uses this “average standard score” to decide which school has performed more or less successfully.  However, there are two major issues with using this means to determine the success of any Mississippi school or school district on any particular MAAP test that make it a poor means of measurement.

First, the big problem is this is an “average.”  Averages are great for some things, but not for others.  Using the SchoolDigger methodology, you could have a hypothetical school with 100 students taking the test.  We will refer to this example test as “Test X.”  Of those 100 student who took “Test X” that year, 50 students made a “standard score” of 100.  The remaining 50 students all made a standard score of 60 (what we would typically consider a failing grade).  Now in this example, the “average standard score” for the school would be an 80, which sounds pretty good.  So in this hypothetical, half of the kids in the class passed and half of the kids in the class failed, which most of us would agree would not be the making of a good, much less a great, result for the school.  But, the “average scale score” result shows an 80, which would be a “B” score in traditional terms.  You can see the issue here in that average scores do not really show how successful the school is in educating or attempting to educate all of their students.

Now keep in mind in the above hypothetical, the schools “average scale score” used for ranking is an 80.  Then, let’s go on to imagine that we are comparing them to another school which also tested 100 students on the same “Test X” during the same year.  At the second school, of the 100 students taking the test, 99 of the students made an 80 and one single student made a 79.  From a common sense standpoint, the second school was far more successful than the first with virtually every student having a “B” level of performance on the assessment!  However, the second school’s “average scale score” is only a 79.99, which puts them lower in the ranking than the first example school (where half of the class failed) with its 80 “average scale score.”  I think you can see from this example and many others that could occur, “average” scores are a very poor way to attempt to rank a school, if the goal is to educate every child.

Secondly, there is nothing remotely referencing “average scale score” or anything “average” in relation to student scores in the Mississippi Accountability Model.  The Mississippi model uses a variety of ways to get “points” for the school which are used to determine the school’s rating (A – F ratings).  Taking away graduation rate and a few other factors which have nothing to do with the MAAP or other standardized tests created by the state, there are only two things the state is concerned with:  growth and percent scoring in the top two levels on the test.  The top two levels of scores that a student could possibly make (Level 4 and Level 5) are basically considered as being “proficient or above” scores on the test.  These are the targets the state wants every student to reach.  Every goal that our schools have in regards to our testing results are geared toward getting all students to at least a Level 4.  On every single test our state administers for accountability, they only want to know did the student grow from their level the previous year and/or did they reach the target of Level 4 or 5.  “Average” scores have nothing to do with this and cannot be used to tell you what percent of students were able to reach the minimum of the Level 4, which is the target given by the state.  This without question makes “average scale score” or any type of “average” score of zero value in relation to our Mississippi Accountability Model on which all schools are judged.

Thus, the means which SchoolDigger is utilizing to rank our schools are in my opinion of little practical value, since they do not tell us the percentage of the class or group who actually are meeting the target level of performance.  The SchoolDigger “average scale score” is also of no value in relation to our Mississippi system of determining school accountability and grade levels.  While growth of the same student from one year to the next, would be the ideal means to make any sort of judgement as far as how much a student actually learned in a year and teaching effectiveness, this information is not available to the public in the released Mississippi test scores.  Without such growth data, the only accurate and relevant way to rank our assessment results for schools and districts is using the percent of students who were able to score a Level 4 or Level 5 on each of the assessments given in our schools by the state.  This is why you will never see an accountability report by the Mississippi Department of Education with any mention of “average” scores being used to demonstrate proof of success on our MAAP assessment scores by our schools or school districts.  The SchoolDigger data using “average scale score” is interesting to look over, but is of no real value for ranking success or failure of our Mississippi schools.

-Clint Stroupe

2016-2017 Mississippi Algebra I MAAP Results Ranked by School & by District

Due to a little more teasing apart of the data, it always takes me a bit longer to post the Algebra I rankings.  As usual, I have listed the results for the state in Algebra I by district/school and ranked them by percent scoring in the top two levels.  Using the percent in the top two levels seems to be the preferred method of determining the percent scoring a “Proficient or above” type score, which is the goal score range.

The following links will take you to the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) Algebra I results from the 2016-2017 school year for junior high & middle schools without a 9th grade, high schools and attendance centers with a 9th grade, and for the districts as a whole (if curious about the reasoning behind this splitting of school rankings see the “Caveats” below):

2016-17 MAAP Algebra I Rankings of Middle & Junior High Schools Without a 9th Grade

2016-17 MAAP Algebra I Rankings of Attendance Centers & High Schools With a 9th Grade

2016-17 MAAP Algebra I Rankings of Mississippi School Districts

As discussed in previous years, more caution should be used in examining these Algebra I 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 2016-2017 MAAP 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 2016-2017, all took the end-of-course MAAP 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?

  1. 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.  This is in reference to the results only and not in reference to where the student’s results will apply in terms of the school’s accountability model grade.
  2. 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.
  3. Thus, 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.
  4. 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 rankings 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 elementary, junior high, and high schools which do not have a 9th grade.  The second category includes K-12 attendance centers and all high schools that have a 9th grade (including both 7th-12th & 9th-12th high schools).  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.  I feel pretty confident in the data at this point, but please let me know if you spot any errors.  My goal for making this information available in this particular format is to aid in improved instruction for all of our students.  I simply ask, if you make use of the data in this format, please pass along the word of where you obtained it.  To paraphrase Crash Davis from Bull Durham, I hope when you speak of me, you speak well.

Thanks,

Clint Stroupe

2016-17 Mississippi MAAP English II Rankings by District & School

It is once again time for our Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) data release.  As usual, I have listed the results for the state in English II by district/school and ranked them by percent scoring in the top two levels.  Using the percent in the top two levels seems to be the preferred method of determining the percent scoring a “Proficient or above” type score, which is the goal score range.

I feel pretty confident in the data at this point, but please let me know if you spot any errors.  My goal for making this information available in this particular format is to aid in improved instruction for all of our students.  I simply ask, if you make use of the data in this format, please pass along the word of where you obtained it.  To paraphrase Crash Davis from Bull Durham, I hope when you speak of me, you speak well.

Simply click the link below to access the DISTRICT LEVEL English II ranking report:

2016-17 MAAP English II Rankings by District

Click the following link below to access the SCHOOL LEVEL English II ranking report:

2016-17 MAAP English II Rankings by School

Thanks,

Clint Stroupe

*These rankings are for informational purposes only.  Growth is far more valuable information on determining whether learning took place and to what degree rather than end-of-year scores only, which only tell us where students at a school “ended up” without knowledge of where they “began.”

2017 Mississippi MAAP 3-8 Math & Language Arts Rankings by District

It is once again time for our Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) data release.  As usual, I have listed the results for the state in Language Arts and Mathematics for grades 3rd – 8th by school district and ranked them by percent scoring in the top two levels.  Using the percent in the top two levels seems to be the preferred method of determining the percent scoring a “Proficient or above” type score, which is the goal score range.

I feel pretty confident in the data at this point, but please let me know if you spot any errors.  My goal for making this information available in this particular format is to aid in improved instruction for all of our students.  I simply ask, if you make use of the data in this format, please pass along the word of where you obtained it.  To paraphrase Crash Davis from Bull Durham, I hope when you speak of me, you speak well.

Simply click the link below to access the ELA ranking report:

2016-17 MAAP Language Arts Rankings by District

Click the following link below to access the Mathematics ranking report:

2016-17 MAAP Mathematics Rankings by District

Thanks,

Clint Stroupe

*These rankings are for informational purposes only.  Growth is far more valuable information on determining whether learning took place and to what degree rather than end-of-year scores only, which only tell us where students at a school “ended up” without knowledge of where they “began.”

2017 Mississippi MAAP 3-8 Math & Language Arts Rankings by School

It is once again time for our Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) data release.  As usual, I have listed the results for the state in Language Arts and Mathematics for grades 3rd – 8th by school and ranked them by percent scoring in the top two levels.  Using the percent in the top two levels seems to be the preferred method of determining the percent scoring a “Proficient or above” type score, which is the goal score range.

I feel pretty confident in the data at this point, but please let me know if you spot any errors.  My goal for making this information available in this particular format is to aid in improved instruction for all of our students.  I simply ask, if you make use of the data in this format, please pass along the word of where you obtained it.  To paraphrase Crash Davis from Bull Durham, I hope when you speak of me, you speak well.

Simply click the link below to access the ELA ranking report:

2016-17 MAAP Language Arts Rankings by School

Click the following link below to access the Mathematics ranking report:

2016-17 MAAP Mathematics Rankings by School

Thanks,

Clint Stroupe

*These rankings are for informational purposes only.  Growth is far more valuable information on determining whether learning took place and to what degree rather than end-of-year scores only, which only tell us where students at a school “ended up” without knowledge of where they “began.”

Mississippi Legislature Education Committee Bills – Alive & Dead – 1/31/2017

As of January 31, 2017,

Mississippi House Education Committee Bills – Dead in Committee

Mississippi House Education Committee Bills – Still Alive

Mississippi Senate Education Committee Bills – Dead in Committee

Mississippi Senate Education Committee Bills – Still Alive

 

 

2015-2016 Mississippi Algebra I MAP Assessment Results Ranked by School & by District

The following are the Mississippi Assessment Program (MAP) Algebra I results from the 2015-2016 school year for junior high & middle schools without a 9th grade, high schools and attendance centers with a 9th grade, and for the districts as a whole:

2015-2016 Algebra I Rankings by Middle or Jr High School

2015-2016 Algebra I Rankings by Attendance Center or High School w 9th Grade

2015-2016 Algebra I Rankings by District

As discussed in previous years, more caution should be used in examining these Algebra I 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 2015-2016 MAP 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 2015-2016, all took the end-of-course MAP 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 elementary, junior high, and high schools which do not have a 9th grade.  The second category includes K-12 attendance centers and all high schools that have a 9th grade (including both 7th-12th & 9th-12th high schools).  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).

If interested in comparing to last year’s PARCC Algebra I assessments, you can view them by clicking on the following link:

2014-2015 Rankings by Mississippi School – PARCC Algebra I Assessment

Despite the long-winded dissertation, I hope these results provide information which you find beneficial.

Thanks,

Clint Stroupe

2015-2016 Mississippi English II MAP Assessment Results Ranked by School

In the same vein as the other assessment results, the following are the Mississippi Assessment Program (MAP) English II results from the 2015-2016 school year ranked by individual school.  Unlike the Algebra I test results, English II results are straight-forward in they only apply to one school since the course and the end-of-course assessment are only taken on the high school level in contrast to Algebra I which can be taken at the middle school level.

The MAP results ranked by school can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

2015-2016 English II Rankings by School

The results from last year’s PARCC English II assessments ranked in the same manner can be viewed by clicking below:

2014-2015 Rankings by MS School – PARCC Eng II Assessment

As with all MAP assessments given for the first time in the 2015-2016 school year, there is no way to accurately determine growth with these student’s having previously taken the MCT2 in the 8th grade.  Thus, the only previous ELA test data was from two years prior on a completely different assessment and fell on the year in which schools were teaching the CCSS while still taking the tests designed for the old curriculum framework.  All that is to simply point out that determining growth between the 8th grade MCT2 scores from a waiver year and the first year MAP English II assessments would be of dubious value.  The data is purely for informational purposes, and I hope those interested find it useful.  As always, please let me know if you spot any issues.

Thanks,

Clint Stroupe

2016 Mississippi MAP 3-8 Math & Language Arts Rankings by District

I have listed the Mississippi Assessment Program (MAP) results for the state in Language Arts and Mathematics for grades 3rd – 8th by district and ranked them by percent scoring in the top two levels.  Using the percent in the top two levels seems to be the preferred method of determining the percent scoring a “Proficient-type” score, which is the goal score range.  I feel pretty confident in the data at this point, but please let me know if you spot any errors.

Simply click the link below to access the ranking report:

2015-2016 MAP Rankings by District

Thanks,

Clint Stroupe

*These rankings are for informational purposes only.  True growth information is not available due to the fact this was the first time the MAP assessments were given.  Growth is far more valuable information on determining whether learning took place and to what degree rather than end-of-year scores only, which only tell us where students in a district “ended up” without knowledge of where they “began.”  The state has attempted to equate the 2014-2015 Mississippi PARCC assessment scores with the 2015-2016 MAP assessment scores in order to determine growth for accountability model purposes.  However, the accuracy of such a comparison with only one year’s worth of data on either assessment is questionable to say the least.

2016 Mississippi MAP 3-8 Math & Language Arts Rankings by School

I have listed the Mississippi Assessment Program (MAP) results for the state in Language Arts and Mathematics for grades 3rd – 8th by school and ranked them by percent scoring in the top two levels.  Using the percent in the top two levels seems to be the preferred method of determining the percent scoring a “Proficient-type” score, which is the goal score range.  This is almost identical to the ranking by school that I posted last year for the PARCC assessments in grades 3rd – 8th.  I feel pretty confident in the data at this point, but please let me know if you spot any errors.

Simply click the link below to access the ranking report:

2015-2016 MAP Rankings by School

Last year’s PARCC assessment results using the same ranking system are available by clicking on the following:

2015 Mississippi PARCC Rankings

Thanks,

Clint Stroupe

*These rankings are for informational purposes only.  True growth information is not available due to the fact this was the first time the MAP assessments were given.  Growth is far more valuable information on determining whether learning took place and to what degree rather than end-of-year scores only, which only tell us where students at a school “ended up” without knowledge of where they “began.”  The state has attempted to equate the 2014-2015 Mississippi PARCC assessment scores with the 2015-2016 MAP assessment scores in order to determine growth for accountability model purposes.  However, the accuracy of such a comparison with only one year’s worth of data on either assessment is questionable to say the least.