The DeHavilland Blog

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Poverty versus school effectiveness

As I mentioned in my previous two posts (here and here), the Education Consumers Foundation has been doing some very cool things with value-added data in Tennessee. In addition to their Value-Added Achievement Awards and school Performance Charts, they also took their composite measures of school performance and plotted them against poverty level. Take a look at the result in the image below (downloadable PDF here):

This scatterplot shows that there is virtually no correlation between poverty rates (as measured by participation rates in free and reduced lunch programs) and the contribution that schools can make to student achievement. What this means is that there are high-poverty schools that are making a major impact on student learning; it also means that there are high-poverty schools doing their children a great disservice. Same goes for schools in affluent areas.

One other interesting piece of information we turned up: when we looked at last year's elementary award winners, we found that eight of the nine winning schools had high percentages of free/reduced lunch participants. Amqui Elementary, the top-scoring elementary school in the state, rang in at 97%.

What this says to me is that we have proof that every student can learn, and just as importantly, every school can teach. The implications of this type of analysis, using a powerful tool like value-added data, are astounding.


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