Monday, October 10, 2016

Poverty link remains constant in Ohio students’ poor test scores | The Columbus Dispatch

Poverty link remains constant in Ohio students’ poor test scores | The Columbus Dispatch:

Poverty link remains constant in Ohio students’ poor test scores

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Changes to state testing and district report cards gave schools plenty of new data to absorb this summer, but one constant remained.
Regardless of which tests students are taking or if more districts are seeing D’s or F’s on their report cards, the results continue to show a strong correlation with poverty levels.
For Howard Fleeter, this has turned into an annual reminder to state leaders and the public of what is likely the largest single factor driving student academic performance in the state.
Fleeter, an analyst for the Ohio Education Policy Institute, has run the report card numbers each of the past four years and found little change in the results.
“Districts face a greater challenge when you have a preponderance of your kids who are economically disadvantaged,” Fleeter said.
“It doesn’t mean these kids can’t learn. It doesn’t mean there aren’t districts that beat the odds. But from a system-wide perspective, we still have not figured out how to get this group of kids to achieve at the level they need to be achieving.”
The revelation is hardly new, but education advocates say it’s important not to forget it, especially as Gov. John Kasich and lawmakers prepare to debate another state budget starting in February.
For all the Statehouse talk about what districts spend, how much funding is needed to educate students and whether Ohio once again needs to alter its testing and accountability system, a factor schools can’t control — poverty rates — continues to drive results.
“It shines a flashlight on the problem,” Fleeter said, adding that it should raise questions about issues such as universal pre-K, summer learning and additional support both inside and outside of school. “This tells me we don’t know how to do enough on a widespread scale.”
For example, on the performance index measure, which accounts for student performance at different levels, district scores ranged from 52 to 111.
Districts that scored 70 or less had an average of 82 percent of students living in poverty. As the scores rise, the poverty drops — districts scoring 80 to 85 had 47 percent poverty, and it was 30 percent for those scoring 90 to 95. Districts that scored above 100 had 9.5 percent average poverty.
Similar results were found with the report card’s new “prepared for success” score, which gauges whether students are ready for work, technical training or college after high school.
Districts scoring less than 25 percent in the category had average student poverty of 77 percent, while those scoring above 65 percent averaged 11 percent poverty.
One in five children lived in poverty in Ohio in 2015, according to census figures, a rate that ranks Ohio 18th-worst in the nation. The 550,000 children in poverty was a decrease of nearly 44,000 from 2014.
There have been a number of questions and concerns raised about the new district report cards, as new testing and higher cut scores led to lower grades for many schools.
“(What) we do not want to lose in the recent confusion over report card results is the continuing performance gap we see between students in low-wealth districts and those in higher-wealth districts,” said Damon Asbury, Ohio School Board Association director of legislative services.Poverty link remains constant in Ohio students’ poor test scores | The Columbus Dispatch:
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