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Thread: Elementary School MCAS scores

  1. #1
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    Default Elementary School MCAS scores

    A poster in the comments section under the 9/29 Town Crier letters to the editor alleges incorrectly and without any supporting analysis alleges that (a) elementary MCAS scores are slipping, (b) that Happy Hollow's scores are slipping worse than Claypit Hill's, and (c) that this slippage is the result of the elementary school reconfiguration.

    There are two important ways to look at MCAS data, which is available here.

    Type 1. Examine scores for a given grade and test (e.g., 3rd Grade Reading) over a relatively long period of time (say, 10+ years). The reason for the long period of time is that differences in specific groups ("cohorts") of students can be evened out to consider the impact of differences in instruction.

    Type 2. Examine scores for a given cohort of students (e.g., 3rd graders in the 07-08 school year who become 4th graders in the 08-09 school year).

    The elementary reconfiguration has been in place for only one year. As such, one can't perform a Type 1 analysis--enough time hasn't passed. So let's take a look at the MCAS scores for the following Type 2 student cohorts.

    Cohorts that did NOT experience the reconfiguration
    Cohort A. 3rd graders in 2006-2007 who became 4th graders in 2007-2008
    Cohort B. 4th graders in 2006-2007 who became 5th graders in 2007-2008

    Cohorts that DID experience the reconfiguration
    Cohort C. 3rd graders in 2007-2008 who became 4th graders in 2008-2009
    Cohort D. 4th graders in 2007-2008 who became 5th graders in 2008-2009

    The appropriate comparisons are to see how Cohort A (no reconfiguration) did relative to Cohort C (reconfiguration), and similarly, how Cohort B (no reconfiguration) did relative to Cohort D (reconfiguration) in moving from one year to the next.

    The Boston Globe MCAS data referenced above reports a score that is the sum of the percentage of students scoring advanced and those scoring proficient (maximum: 100). Let's look at how the non-reconfiguration and reconfiguration cohorts compared for reading-ELA and math for Claypit Hill (CH) and Happy Hollow (HH).

    3rd grade Reading to 4th grade ELA comparison
    • CH Cohort A (non-reconfig) dropped 18 points
    • CH Cohort C (reconfig) dropped 8 points
    • HH Cohort A (non-reconfig) dropped 2 points
    • HH Cohort C (reconfig) did not change
    • Observation: reconfiguration cohort did better for both schools
    • Observation: HH's difference was better than CH's


    3rd grade Math to 4th grade Math comparison
    • CH Cohort A (non-reconfig) dropped 12 points
    • CH Cohort C (reconfig) dropped 8 points
    • HH Cohort A (non-reconfig) dropped 9 points
    • HH Cohort C (reconfig) dropped 15 points
    • Observation: reconfiguration cohort did better at CH, worse at HH


    4th grade ELA to 5th grade ELA comparison
    • CH Cohort B (non-reconfig) increased 9 points
    • CH Cohort D (reconfig) increased 23 points
    • HH Cohort B (non-reconfig) increased 8 points
    • HH Cohort D (reconfig) increased 12 points
    • Observation: reconfiguration cohort did better for both schools
    • Observation: CH's improvement was larger than HH's


    4th grade Math to 5th grade Math comparison
    • CH Cohort B (non-reconfig) increased 18 points
    • CH Cohort D (reconfig) increased 13 points
    • HH Cohort B (non-reconfig) increased 5 points
    • HH Cohort D (reconfig) increased 6 points
    • Observation: reconfiguration cohort did better at HH, worse at CH (but both improved)


    It's worth noting that in general, Claypit Hill's scores are higher than Happy Hollow's. Also, in general, scores drop going from grade 3 to grade 4 and then see a larger increase going from grade 4 to grade 5. The WPS administration is aware of these differences and working to address them.

    With respect to the Town Crier poster's allegations that MCAS scores slipped and that the reconfiguration was the cause, the data suggests otherwise. In 6 of the 8 cases above, the reconfiguration cohorts did better than the non-reconfiguration cohorts.

    The original poster's other fallacy--confusing correlation with causation--also applies here. I'm not suggesting that the reconfiguration was the cause of improved MCAS performance. Rather, I place the credit squarely on the shoulders of our excellent administrators and teachers who elevated their game under difficult circumstances.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 05-12-2010 at 05:02 PM. Reason: to fix typo at poster's request (non-configuation -> non-reconfiguration)

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    Default Continue the extrapolation....

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    It's worth noting that in general, Claypit Hill's scores are higher than Happy Hollow's. Also, in general, scores drop going from grade 3 to grade 4 and then see a larger increase going from grade 4 to grade 5. The WPS administration is aware of these differences and working to address them.
    Your comment above seems to correlate with the Crier poster's comment as follows:

    Crier Poster: "With 40% of 4th graders at Happy Hollow in the Needs Improveent or Failng category, these are not numbers that our school committee should be proud of. (It's 'only' 31% for Claypit.)
    I would encourage all residents to look beyond the school committee provided 'analysis' and take a look at the raw data."

    You provided a theory for the reconfiguration MCAS comparison, what theory might you offer for the Claypit / HH comparision?

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    Default

    Actually, I did not provide a theory for the ES reconfiguration, I provided an observation: namely, that MCAS scores improved more in the reconfiguration year than in the year prior. And, I don't have a theory for the CH-HH comparison.

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    Default Your theory

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Actually, I did not provide a theory for the ES reconfiguration, I provided an observation: namely, that MCAS scores improved more in the reconfiguration year than in the year prior. And, I don't have a theory for the CH-HH comparison.
    Jeff Dieffenbach wrote: "Rather, I place the credit squarely on the shoulders of our excellent administrators and teachers who elevated their game under difficult circumstances."

    So now please continue to your theory on why Claypit Hill has statistically significant higher MCAS scores than HH.

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    Default

    That's not a theory *about* MCAS scores and reconfiguration, that's an "anti-hypothesis" suggesting that I don't find any evidence to link reconfiguration to MCAS scores.

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    Default The scientific method...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    It's worth noting that in general, Claypit Hill's scores are higher than Happy Hollow's. Also, in general, scores drop going from grade 3 to grade 4 and then see a larger increase going from grade 4 to grade 5. The WPS administration is aware of these differences and working to address them.
    But in order to "address them" one must have a theory.. a hypothesis... to formulate a plan to remedy the situation. Else its throwing darts. The scientific method must be applied and the first step to formulate a theory or hypothesis.

    So, why don't you think about this for a while and then provide step one.
    Perhaps you could consult with the rest of the SC before replying back on this one.

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    Default

    Sorry if this is a duplicate....

    Alan,

    I am wondering if you have a theory or hypothesis for the difference in MCAS scores between HH and CH. From your post it seems like you do and I (as well as many others I am sure) would love to hear it. Will you share it with us?

    Thanks

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    Default Theoretical Postulations

    Quote Originally Posted by BTDowns View Post
    Sorry if this is a duplicate....
    Duplicate?

    Quote Originally Posted by BTDowns View Post
    Alan,

    I am wondering if you have a theory or hypothesis for the difference in MCAS scores between HH and CH. From your post it seems like you do and I (as well as many others I am sure) would love to hear it. Will you share it with us?

    Thanks
    Ben ! Long time no argue !

    Well I do have a theory but its only a gut feel at the moment and I'm collecting some data to see if it has legs. Of course, if the data pans out and the theory is plausible then an experiment would have to be done to test it... part III scientific method. And that might be problematic for the SC.

    So I apologize for being vague at this juncture but I can only provide a theory if the data supports it... else... I would like Jeff D and/or the SC to try to reconcile why two elementary schools, in the same town, with the same quality of staff, at the same steps / lanes of pay, with the same benefits, with the same curriculum would have such a significant difference in MCAS.

    It is baffling isn't it?... I mean really.
    You wouldn't by any chance have your own theory would you?

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    Default

    Alan,

    So your fear is to post a theory or hypothesis that may be wrong? Even if you collect data (step 2) that supports your theory or hypothesis it could still turn out to be wrong. Why not take the bold (?) step and share your thoughts?

    I am just curious, I do not have a dog in this hunt.

    Thanks

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    Default The Cat

    Ben,

    Curiosity killed the cat... thats what mom used to say.

    You are correct, I could be wrong even if the data says the theory is plausible but remember I didn't offer a theory, you asked. I will oblige your request at the right time.

    Jeff did say that the SC was going to address the issue. Aren't you also curious as to what they think the root cause is? I certainly am.

    All in good time Ben... good night.

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    Default

    Actually, Alan, what I said was, "The WPS administration (emphasis added) is aware of these differences and working to address them."

    This isn't some special initiative, just part of our educators' effort that's been ongoing for years to learn from our MCAS results. I don't imagine that the Committee will be taking an active role in that effort, nor discussing it in this forum.

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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    Ben,

    Curiosity killed the cat... thats what mom used to say.

    You are correct, I could be wrong even if the data says the theory is plausible but remember I didn't offer a theory, you asked. I will oblige your request at the right time.

    Jeff did say that the SC was going to address the issue. Aren't you also curious as to what they think the root cause is? I certainly am.

    All in good time Ben... good night.
    Which law school did you graduate from?

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    Default Whats your theory?

    As Jeff D has pointed too, there is a statistically significant between the MCAS scores of CH vs. HH. The WPS administration is going to address it. The SC will not be addressing it (is what I take away from this). But we have no explanation as to why this difference exists.

    So what is your theory as to why this is true Carl?

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    As Jeff D has pointed too, there is a statistically significant between the MCAS scores of CH vs. HH.
    I don't know that the difference is statistically significant, nor did I suggest that it was (or wasn't).

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    Default It is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I don't know that the difference is statistically significant, nor did I suggest that it was (or wasn't).
    It is very statistically significant, with a 100% correlation of having a higher probability of scoring Advanced or Proficient at CH vs. a higher probability of scoring Needs Improvement or Failure at HH.

    Its quite remarkable.

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