SE High School Scores – This year vs. last year 2011
I’ve gotten some interesting analysis and POVs from 2 different blog readers that I’d like to share.
The first is some information from Selective Prep (a test prep service) about the shift in scores needed for SE entry and what it might mean for kids entering high school in the next few years.
The second is from a blog reader, Peter Bernstein, an economic consultant who teaches at DePaul and is the parent of a CPS student. I’ve attempted to imbed his nice tables but I know the 2nd once looks small. If you can squint, it’s pretty interesting.
Thanks to both for some thought-provoking data!
Admissions scores decline as more students are admitted by tier
This year average admissions scores at nearly all Selective Enrollment High Schools declined. Lane Tech, Young, Payton, and Northside College Prep saw declines of 12, 10, 8, and 6 points respectively. This decline comes after years of successive and often significant point increases.
This decrease in scores was precipitated by a change in CPS’ admissions policy. In November 2010, CPS changed the admissions formula from a 40%/60% Rank/Tier mix to a 30%/70% Rank/Tier mix. Students are admitted in the Rank category if they have the highest scores, regardless of their socio-economic Tier; while students in Tiers are admitted on the basis of their scores in comparison with other students in that Tier. This change effectively increased the percentage of students admitted in each Tier from 15% to 17.5%. While the scores of Tier 3 and Tier 4 students admitted to the most competitive schools increased or were flat, this was more than offset by an increased number of students from Tiers 1 and 2 with lower admissions scores.
Students in Tier 3 and Tier 4 needed to get perfect or nearly perfect admissions scores to get into the most competitive schools. At Northside, for example, the average score of an admitted Tier 4 student was 892 and for a Tier 3 student it was 889 on the 900 point admissions scale. The average score of an admitted student in Tier 4 at Payton was 892 and for a Tier 3 student it was 884. Effectively, Tier 3 and 4 students seeking admissions to these schools needed to get in the top 5% on both their 7th and 8th grade tests – and of course all A’s in 7th grade.
Additionally, the change in admissions policy made it possible for students with lesser academic records than in previous years to be admitted to Selective Enrollment High Schools. The lowest score of an admitted student declined across all schools, but this decline was particularly dramatic for the most competitive schools. Last year the lowest score of an admitted student at Lane Tech was 736, but this year it was 688 (-48 points). At Northside last year the lowest score was 850; this year it fell 58 points to 792. At Payton last year it was 855, and this year it was 806 (-49 points). At Whitney Young last year it was 818, while this year it was 784 (-34 points).
According to Matthew Greenberg, partner of educational services firm SelectivePrep, “Where a student lives is playing an increasing role in whether he or she is admitted to a top Selective Enrollment High School. This means that a student needs to focus intently on those factors he/she can control.” He added, “While straight A’s in 7th grade are mandatory for students targeting the more competitive schools, the margin for error in test scores has narrowed for students from higher Tiers. Students need to aim for superior scores on both the Seventh Grade Standardized Test and the Selective Enrollment Entrance Exam.”
With the release of the selective enrollment high school point totals for 2011, it is possible to compare each of the nine schools with their 2010 scores. I calculated the 2011 average score by taking the weighted average of the school’s average scores for Rank (30 percent of students), and each of the four tiers (70 percent of students in total). My calculation for 2011 is compared to the average scores from 2010, found at the CPS and various other web sites.
One difference this year is that only 30 percent of students were admitted based solely on having the highest scores (“Rank’) with 70 percent coming from the students having the highest scores in each of the four census tiers. That differs from the 2010 policy in which 40 percent of students were admitted by Rank and 60 percent by Tier. As a result of having fewer Rank admissions, overall average scores were a bit lower this year than last, with seven of the nine schools showing a decline. Lindblom (+11) and Jones (+6) were the only two schools to show an increase in their average point total from last year. By my calculations, Jones actually moved slightly ahead of Young, 859 to 858. Last year, Jones was 15 points behind Young. Northside and Payton continued to be the two highest-scoring schools.
The average of the test scores of the nine schools in 2011 was 805, six points lower than in 2010.
Another area of interest is the minimum scores for admission for each school, also known as the cut-off scores. As most of you know, 40 percent of the admissions are based entirely on the student’s score (referred to as “Rank”) and the other 60 percent are drawn equally from the highest performing students in each of the four census tiers designated by the CPS.
In general, the cut-off scores were higher in 2011 than in 2010 for the Rank category with Lindblom and Jones showing the biggest increases. Cut-off scores for students from Tiers 4 and 3 were sometimes higher and sometimes lower, depending on the school. Cut-off scores were lower for students coming from Tiers 1 and 2, especially for students coming from Tier 1, where they were anywhere between 9 and 58 points lower in 2011 than in 2010.
As an aside, the cut-off is the minimum score for a student from a given Tier, not the average score. For example, the minimum score for a Tier 1 student admitted to Payton was 806, but the average score for all the Tier 1 students admitted to Payton was 849.
I don’t have data for average scores by tier in 2010, but it seems to me that the lower cut-off scores for Tier 1 and Tier 2 suggest that the selective schools had fewer applicants from these areas in 2011 than they did in 2010. If so, the CPS might think about how they can get more high-performing students from the Tier 1 areas to apply to the selective enrollment schools. The CPS might also consider reworking how they categorize different census blocks into the four tiers. With the release of the 2010 census data, it is likely that several areas will see their tier change next year.