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November 3, 2016
How a Manhattan statistics teacher works social justice and Donald Trump into her classes
Kari Ostrem doesn't shy away from sensitive subjects in her statistics classes at Manhattan's Vanguard High School.
June 28, 2012
Into crowded field of school data comes a user-friendly report
Insideschools introduced its new school data tool, "Inside Stats" at a panel discussion on school assessment. When Jacqueline Wayans helped her second daughter pick a high school, they were confident about their choice. After all, Wayans is a savvy parent who had worked for years visiting and reviewing schools for Insideschools, the online guide to city schools. Her older daughter had attended a city school with an arts theme and gotten a good education, and her younger daughter's top pick, Manhattan's High School for Fashion Industries, had gotten an "A" from the Department of Education. It wasn't until after her daughter enrolled that Wayans learned Fashion Industries only offered three years of math classes. And when the school added a fourth math class, she didn't find out until it was too late that her daughter's scores were too low for her to qualify. Now, when Wayans's daughter starts college this fall, she'll need to take remedial math. "I just assumed that there was a four-year sequence," Wayans said today during a panel discussion about metrics for assessing high schools that Insideschools hosted. "My older daughter had it at her high school and I just thought it was there." Wayans isn't alone in trusting a small sliver of information to make the potentially life-changing decision about where to attend high school. Some parents and students choose schools by their names, their sports teams, or their neighborhoods, without digging deep to understand what kind of education the schools offer. Now entering its second decade, Insideschools (where I also worked from 2005 to 2008) is preparing to launch a tool to help parents like Wayans — and those far less savvy than she is — make better choices. The tool, called "Inside Stats," is a consumer-oriented presentation of public data about high schools that is meant to complement, or perhaps even rival, the information the city distributes.
June 2, 2009
A statistician offers a caveat on single-school score celebrations
It's not news to report that statistics can be deceptive. But when a new set of test scores come out, it's worth repeating nonetheless. Teachers College sociologist Aaron Pallas tackles the subject in the Community section of GothamSchools today, by taking a closer look at two middle schools that the Post has recently highlighted for exceptional performance and finding that both schools admit their students selectively. He writes: Due to their selective admissions, IS 187 and, to a lesser extent, IS 364 were born on third base. The New York Post thinks they hit a triple. Some schools might have hit something closer to a home run. Manhattan's citywide Anderson School, for instance, admitted every single one of its students in grades 3-8 on the basis of their scores on an IQ test and in-person interview. Not a single student at Anderson failed the math test, and in fact it was the only school citywide with a clean 100 percent of all students in a single grade scoring at the very highest level, in the sixth grade. Not all successful schools handpick their students.
May 27, 2009
Teacher merit pay just doesn't work yet, a professor argues
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has for years been a proponent of paying some teachers more based on their performance, and he has made…
September 22, 2008
Eduwonkette: Progress report grades "dominated by random variation"
Columbia sociologists Jennifer Jennings and Aaron Pallas (also known as Eduwonkette and her sidekick, skoolboy) take a long, hard, statistical look at…
September 18, 2008
Improvement in progress report grades: real or random?
Last year, the first round of progress reports attracted anger and ridicule. Perhaps because far fewer schools received low grades, the response this year has been more muted, making room for measured, evidence-based discussion of the DOE's methodology in constructing the reports. Over at Eduwonkette, Harvard education professor Daniel Koretz offers a lengthy critique of the progress report methodology. He notes that test scores alone are not a legitimate way to evaluate schools; New York State's tests were not designed to be used in "value-added" analysis like that behind the progress reports; and the progress reports, like all accountability systems, place pressure on school administrators that likely leads to score inflation. In addition, he writes that the DOE's formula does not take into account "interval scaling," or the reality that different amounts of "value" are required to move students from one proficiency level to the next at different points on the proficiency spectrum. (In June, I wrote about how interval scaling might contribute to the finding that No Child Left Behind has helped high-performing students less than their low-performing peers.) But those problems exist in many test-based, value-added accountability systems — Koretz writes that New York's progress report system has its own set of errors. The tremendous variation in schools' grades from last year to this year probably has less to do with school improvement than sampling and measurement error, he writes. Here's an illustration of the effect of error. I first calculated the variation in schools' grades between last year and this year and then graphed it against their enrollments.
August 27, 2008
DOE: 62 percent of Class of 2007 graduated on time
Four-Year Outcomes for the Class of 2007 When the state released graduation figures earlier this month, I wondered what the city's old formula for determining graduation rates would have said about the class of 2007. Yesterday, Edwize pointed us to a 276-page report available on the DOE's website that includes the answer to that question and much, much more. Although the state's graduation figure of 52 percent is the official one thanks to an agreement between the city and state last year, the DOE still calculated the graduation rate for the class of 2007 using its old formula, which gave credit for students graduating in August and for students completing a GED or IEP diploma rather than a local or Regents diploma. According to this formula, 62 percent of students entering the city's high schools in the fall of 2003 graduated on time, an improvement of 2.3 percentage points over the class of 2006.
August 6, 2008
Exploring two measures of student progress…
Mind the gap, <em>by ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/mwichary/2506936869/##Marcin Wichary##</em> The internet has seen a flurry of activity recently over the DOE's claim that it has reduced the achievement gap between black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian peers. Testing that claim, the New York Sun submitted the ELA and math scale score data for students in grades 3-8 to three independent analysts, who concluded that the gap has decreased in ELA, but has stayed flat since 2002 in mathematics, confirming much of Eduwonkette's analysis. The new analysis emphasizes the difference between closing the proficiency gap by comparing the percentage of students who score at a level 3 or 4 on state tests, and closing the achievement gap by comparing mean scale scores.
August 5, 2008
Joel Klein doesn't believe in statistical significance?!
I have to take issue with Klein’s dismissal of statistical significance, as reported by the Sun: The National Center for Education Statistics also…
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