Are you smarter than a third grader ? (Guest post by HSObsessed)
June 30, 2011 at 6:20 am
Thanks to the wonderful HSObsessed (I think I owe you dinner at this point) we have another insightful posting – this time about the new ISAT scores that are out. As a fellow data lover, I’m excited to start poring through them. In a nutshell, she’s scared me into thinking that the parents of young kids need to get on the ball to expand the high school options, as there will be a glut of high scoring kids in the system in about 5 years. Read on….
The newest ISAT scores are now available on the CPS website. I’ve provided the link to the CPS data below, as well as a link to a spreadsheet I created about 3rd graders.
I’m always most interested in looking at scores from the 3rd graders, because they reflect the abilities of new schools that just started up or those that have undergone big changes in programming for the youngest grades.
I’m also most interested in looking at the “exceeds standards” scores. While it’s nice to see what percentage in a school “meet or exceeds” standards, the ISATs are not terribly challenging — they’re testing to see whether kids are learning the basics of each grade — and I think it’s widely agreed that it’s not really hard to “meet” standards. I also think that a core group of kids who are not just meeting minimum criteria, but going beyond, provides a class, a grade, a school with a “core” group of kids who can help raise the bar for all the kids around them, and who can keep parents confident in a school’s ability to provide a strong learning environment.
So I looked at the 2011 “exceeds” scores for 3rd graders, and what I see is really encouraging. Out of 500 elementary schools in the grid, 63 have 50% or more of their 3rd graders exceeding standards, which I believe is a record number. In 2010, there were only 43 schools, in 2009 37 schools, and in 2008, only 29 schools.
Looking at the list of the top schools, I note that there’s a huge variety of school “type”: 8 are test-in only (red), 13 are citywide magnets (purple), 31 are neighborhood schools (some accept via lottery if space is available — in black), 6 are neighborhood schools with gifted centers (blue), and 5 are charter schools (green). (Skinner West does have a neighborhood component, but the neighborhood kids haven’t hit 3rd grade yet, so I’ve left it as a “test in” school for now.)
If you looked at how many schools had 50% or more of their TOTAL student population of 3rd through 8th graders exceeding standards in 2011, it’s only 22 schools. So this means there’s a huge crop of smart third graders in CPS. Why? More preschool before kindergarten built a strong foundation? Better instruction for lower grades? Better test prep? More affluent families staying in the city (voluntarily or otherwise) and choosing or being forced to enroll their kids in public schools? I don’t know.
I think this bodes well for CPS as a whole, but it will be a challenge to put forth strong middle-school instruction in three years, and then to provide safe and academically challenging high school programs for this wave of go-getters in another six years.
All CPS data can be found here:
My little spreadsheet:
Entry filed under: Test scores.