Sunday, September 29, 2013

South Shore PreK-8: What's the Mystery?

Almost a year ago I did a thread on South Shore and compared it to the other K-8s.  I found in reading, SS is about the same as most K-8s but the math is worse. 

So I did a comparison today with South Shore, Roxhill and Maple from 2009 to today and there seems to be two issues. 

One, something seems amiss from 3rd to 4th grade at South Shore.  The children in third grade do really well only to see those scores drop (and I mean drop) by 4th and into 5th. 

Two, there is a bit of a mystery about South Shore.  No one mentions the long-time partnership that started South Shore (with the New School Foundation and now LEV).  Not at their school website and barely in the district's own pages.  You'd think this would be some shining example of (1) what you can do with smaller class sizes and (2) public/private partnerships.   Why doesn't the district talk about SS more when confronting legislators over funding?  I note the district did honor South Shore this past Feb at a Board meeting and Director Martin-Morris held them up as role models to other parts of the country.

They do have two tutoring programs, their own school nurse, two kinds of empathy/behavior programs and literacy coaches.  I'm thinking between that - and the ability to buy down class sizes per their MOU - that's where the nearly $1M per year that New School kicks in must go.  About 25% of their school budget is grant funds.  (I'd venture that that may be the largest in the district.) 

Here's what I found when I examined the data at OSPI:

- South Shore's black population has gone down from about 50% (that was at least 5 years ago) to just about 40%.  As that has happened the Latino population has gone up slightly (about 9%) with the rest mostly Asian/Pacific Islander and 11% being white.  It is 63% F/RL.

- Roxhill is about 36% Latino, 25% black, 31% Asian/Pacific Islander and 13% white with 81% F/RL. 

- Maple is about 49% Asian/Pacific Islander, 13% black, 11% white and almost 20% Hispanic with about 64% F/RL.

So why do I think the South Shore scores odd? (R stands for reading and the number after it is the grade level). Look at these scores.

2009-2010         2010-2011     2011-2012     2012-2013
R3 - 68.8%        R3 - 76%       R3 - 65%       R3 - 83%
R4 - 50.6%        R4 - 57%       R4 - 70%       R4 - 55%
R5 - 57%           R5 - 55%       R5 - 56%       R5 - 67%

It's the same for math in the variation from 3rd to 5th grades (BUT SS does have higher math scores than Roxhill by far but Maple bests them both in reading and math scores across the three grades.)

How is it that their students do so well in 3rd grade and then have between 20-30 point drops in 4th grade and then that score stays nearly the same or slightly higher in 5th?

How did Roxhill and Maple do?

2009-2010     2010-2011     2011-2012     2012-2013
R3 -35%        R3 - 35%       R3 - 53%       R3 - 61%
R4 - 56%       R4 - 56%       R4 - 63%       R4 - 63%
R5 - 60%       R5 - 60%       R5 - 71%       R5 - 65%

2009-2010      2010-2011     2011-2012     2012-2013
R3 - 67%        R3 - 70%       R3 - 68%       R3 - 85%
R4 - 64%        R4 - 83%       R4 - 74%       R4 - 84%
R5 - 64%        R5 - 63%       R5 - 78%       R5 - 74%

You can see the difference.   And, neither has the money or programs of SS and Roxhill has a much higher F/RL population.

As well, for 7th grade, I compared SS to Mercer and Aki Kurose.  Mercer, as you might expect, came out on top across all the years for both math and reading (low 70's to 80%) with SS second (low 50s to near 70%) and Aki coming in lowest (between 30-near 60%).   But Mercer isn't getting $1M per year more into their building.

(Interestingly, I happened to check TOPS for 2012-2013 and that was odd as well.  SS easily bested TOPS most 7/8th grade reading and math scores.  I would not have expected that.)

Because I call out South Shore - both for their funding and their building - it might seem I'm picking on them.  I'm not.  It's kind of like TFA - like the participants, don't like/trust the program. 

I got to thinking about this as we are having these on-going discussions of capacity management because South Shore is not full.  And no school is an island in this current capacity crunch. The money they get from the New School Foundation (via LEV) pays for lower class sizes.  So you have a brand-new building that is not full. 

Something of a bitter pill for other schools to swallow.


Patrick said...

What textbooks and teaching materials is South Shore using?

Anonymous said...

Charlie: Is there any data that compares the actual students? In other words, are the same kids continuing from third through fourth and fifth grades? It is possible that some kids are leaving for other schools or private schools to secure a spot in a better middle school than they perceive Aki Kurose to be. That happened a lot at Graham Hill back in our day. Families would leave the school for 4th/5th grades and head private or to TOPS or Orca if they were lucky enough to get in.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually, I wrote this thread. It would be a big job to get access to that data but you would think at a K-8, you might see more stability. That Roxhill and Maple had more consistent scores is confusing to me with all that SS has.

joanna said...

Melissa, thank you for the information. You are correct that one of the arguments for K-8s is that it encourages stability in the school. Maple has been doing well and rewarded as an outstanding school for awhile now.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Melissa...
It is a great thread, and a true mystery to be solved.

Anonymous said...

Why would you expect micro analysis of MSP scores to result in any information at all? We don't know who the students are, we don't know their issues, we don't even know if they're the same students from year to year - though that information is available I believe. Students are way more than test scores. Let's consider for a moment, the number of special education students at SS. There's an EBD program, and an autism inclusion program. Either one of those programs could contribute 3 to 8 students at any given grade level, then not the next, then ship the students for another year. All these things have happened at SS. The ability of these students varies tremendously, and their test scores tend to decrease over time as their differences grow. (not always, but often) Roxhill on the other hand has an autism self-contained program - which is highly segregated. Students are usually measured by WAAS portfolio - checking, yes indeed, Roxhill students do the WAAS (actually their teachers to the WAAS, but that is a digression). And Maple, the wonderful school in the southend, testscorewise, well, it exports all it's special education students if they have any significant needs. It's pretty easy to look good on your tests when you do that.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, you can say it's not the same students from year to year at any school. These results are what the district goes on and only they know who moves where. (That said the district reportcard reports mobility on it - you could go look that up.)

I'll note that Roxhill is much higher free and reduced lunch and that I included Maple.

I don't believe this is all about Sped (and if you really want the emphasis on that issue do consider, as time goes by and we have charters, that's why they do better as well).

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I'm not saying that it's all about the sped. But I am saying that programs such as the ones SS has, often contribute significant numbers of significantly impacted students on any given testing year. While it was "New School" the school steadfastly resisted having any sped programs, or sped students with significant needs, and notably they were lauded for their miraculous WASL scores. Consider that they have 16 students with autism in the elementary grades, and at least 10 (maybe 20) in EBD. With the advent of ICS - there could be others too. If 8 of those students are in 1 grade (and that has happened at SS) it would be predicted to be a dramatic impact on tests. And, you do see a huge variation year to year. Are there other impacts? Is something else going on? Who knows? But staring at MSP scores will not give you answers.


Lynn said...

The Washington State Report Card can be sorted for Special Education and Non Special Education. Those Non Special Education 5th grade reading scores (SS First, Roxhill second):

2009-2010 62.9% 61.5%
2010-2011 60.6% 81.3%
2011-2012 62.1% 75.8%
2012-2013 70.3% 63.4%

Anonymous said...

Oops. Never mind. There isn't an elementary autism program there. But I believe one is supposed to be added. There is an EBD program though. (No telling if there is 1 or 2. That would mean the district would have to disclose that information.)


Anonymous said...

No Lynn, those are only the special education students who also take the MSP. At Roxhill, the special education students in the program do not take the MSP, they take the WAAS. Secondly, the regular scores include the special education students. (All means all, remember?) There is no "non special education" category. Students with disabilities actually are people too.


Lynn said...

I must be reading this incorrectly:


Good to know my kids are people too! That'll change the way I look at them. Wait - are adults with disabilities people too? Best day ever!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

I will remind readers we don't take anonymous comments.

I also remind readers to not toss out wild allegations without backup confirmation.

Kamilah Lateefah said...

I taught at ss for the past 9 years (both first and mostly second grade). I along with two other phenomenal 3rd grade teachers helped our students turn that msp on its ear last year. I enjoyed my time at ss and know that there are wonderful things in place. There are also, like with any other school, issues that no amount of money can fix. Many students leave after third grade and an influx of students arrive there as fourth graders and fifth graders. Other issues arise that aren't related to new students. I don't believe it's really a mystery at all, yet I'm not really about to discuss it here. For now I've moved on to another nearby south end school where I plan to make educational miracles happen - it's what I do.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kamilah, why do you think many students leave after third grade?

mirmac1 said...


Thank you for pointing out the way our special needs students just don't count! The Fed thought it was totally hunky-dory that our state's NCLB waiver explicitly exclude special ed student outcomes. This, despite the fact that the vast majority of students in special education have minor learning disabilities.

It's maddening!

Lynn said...

I hope I didn't offend you - can't tell from your comment. Someone earlier implied that a high number of students receiving special ed services was an excuse for SS's test scores. I was curious about whether that was true. I don't think everyone realizes how much information is available in the School Report Card. I know plenty of bright kids who qualify for special ed services.

mirmac1 said...

No! For once I wasn't snarky! : ) It is important for others to see the double standard when it comes to SpEd students outcomes.

Lynn said...

phew! I have annoyed enough people here already this week!