Questionable Statistics

It has been stated that only 17% of Seattle Public School graduates have completed the classes needed to enroll in a four-year university. Is that true? How could that be true? Surely more than 17% of our graduates enroll in four-year universities - don't they?

Here's a statistic from the League of Education Voters web site: "30% of kids entering kindergarten don't know how to hold a book." I'm having trouble believing that statistic as well. Is it because some of them - being in kindergarten and therefore non-readers - hold the book upside-down?

There are some other statistics out there that just don't seem right.


kingb said…
"being in kindergarten and therefore non-readers"

that's quite an assumption

my son is two years from KG and can read (and can properly hold a book)
Dorothy Neville said…
So... is LEV going to hold teachers accountable because incoming Kindergarteners don't know how to hold a book?

Kingb, Charlie was guessing at what the 30% could mean. You just declared that your kid is in the 70% who does know how to hold a book. I don't get your point.

Charlie, one would have to ask the 36th DEMS for a copy of the video to be completely sure. I can just rely on my memory and my notes. They tell me that Sharon Rodgers, president for SchoolsFirst claims that 17% of SPS HS graduates do not have the credits to get into our state universities. That the rest had to go to community college or a private college instead. So, she made a very specific claim. I do not think it is supportable, or meaningful, given the list of private colleges that I know SPS graduates attend.
Stats Man said…
According to Garfield's website 70% of its graduates go on to four year schools and 20% go to 2 year colleges.

Some older data says that Ballard High sent 60% of its graduates to for year colleges.
I actually think most kids know how to hold a book just because the pictures would be upside down. I saw that stat as well and went hmmm.

It would be good to ask where that 17% figure came from. OSPI? SPS?
Jet City mom said…
They should have never canceled Reading Rainbow.
Patrick said…
87% of all statistics are pulled out of the air...
seattle citizen said…
Patrick, I have to disagree. As we see here,, in this reputable analysis, 47.3%, 58.17543%, and 78.587643% of statistics are pulled out of the air.*

*One caveat is that they studied statistics "made up on the spot," which 97.381% of respondents would, considering all possible variables, agree is the same as statistics "pulled out of the air." (Neuman, A.E., 2011)
StepJ said…
I'm sure I'm missing something...I'm wondering why SchoolsFirst is using college readiness as a reason to vote 'Yes' for the Levy?

If I understand correctly the only monies from the Levy in support of schools and classrooms is the raise for teachers and purchase of textbooks. All other monies would be for Central Administration projects.

If this understanding of Levy expenditures is correct then why say passing the Levy will improve college readiness?
seattle citizen said…
StepJ, an argument you might hear, like similar arguments, is that money will be spent on "the strategic plan," or on "performance management" os some other grand scheme. This argument allows the arguer to say, "Well, these general administrative funds go towards all sorts of things...aimed at SP...or PM...the details of which are too numerous to go over here."
StepJ said…
So it is a diversion such as magicians use -- look over there it is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow -- don't notice I just picked your pocket.

Thanks SC.
Sarah said…
My cousin is a Special Ed. teacher in Yakama. He reports students enter kindergarten without ever having held a crayon.
Dorothy Neville said…
LOL StepJ, you got it. SchoolsFirst is pulling all the punches of don't hurt the kids, we need more money, who cares about those pesky audits that weren't that bad, really. YES! Sharon Rodgers used this as a reason for supporting the LEVY at the 36th DEM Executive board interview.

Seriously folks, if we want to defeat the levy, we have to ACT! We have to give people the facts, counter all this emotional baggage about doing it for the kids. It's going to take a lot of work. Just talking about it on this blog is not enough.

I am off to the 36th DEMs general meeting tonight. I will be attending the 11th LD Dems and as many other groups as I can. Please, work on your own PTAS, influence your neighbors, set the records straight.
thewalrus said…
The HEC Board reports that one year after HS graduation, 29% of all HS graduates (statewide) are in a 4 year university. And that figure is apparently only for HS if you looked at all students who started 9th grade (~30% of which don't graduate), it's not impossible to believe the 17% SPS figure.
Anonymous said…
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seattle citizen said…
thewalrus, many HS grads might be ready to go a four-year college but don't right away. Many can't afford it, many go into two-year programs first, many opt for other choices before college, many just don't go to college at all.
SP said…
Yes, I've seen the 17% statistic for "college readiness" (% of HS graduates meeting credit requirements for 4-year college) many times from the REA when the Strategic Plan was rolled out.

Check out the 5 yr Strategic Plan on the SPS homepage (p.14). The 17% rate was from 2006-07, with a "5-year" improvement goal for 40% in 2012-13. Where were we for 2009-10?

In contrast, the WA state 4-yr college readiness rate (for 2008 graduates) was 49%. This is from a BERC Group report presented to the State Board of Education (online, titled "Transcript Study"). The interesting thing is that in the BERC report, districts that required more credits (especially math & science) to graduate did not have higher 4 year "college readiness" rates (adjusted for poverty), as kids would not necessarily take higher level math classes for the required credits. This report was presented to the state Board of Ed and they still started up with the CORE 24 push.

But this summer, the State Board of Ed has actually thrown out the CORE 24 and come out with a new "20" credit push, with a new sales pitch name. BTW also- Seattle is one of the very few districts to require only 19 credits- more than 65% already require 22 for HS graduation, if I recall right.
seattle citizen said…
So I went to the LEV site, looking for this, and found their blog, which I commented on recently. Turns out that the comment I thought I'd left earlier today was not posted. A comment I tried to leave is now sitting there, unposted, with a note on the bottom that says my comment is "awaiting moderation." Since no such thing appears on the other topic I'd commented on, I can only assume they looked at that one and decided they didn't like it.

I guess censorship is alive and well over there. Figures.
thewalrus said…
hi seattle citizen: in reply to your reply to my post: yes, all those stats are covered in the linked report. I was responding to the questions that was posed, "Surely more than 17% of our graduates enroll in four-year universities - don't they?" It's apparently quite possible that the answer to that question is "no." I did not mean to imply in anyway that everyone should go immediately to a 4 year university [though I am one of those people who believe that all students are capable of and should get themselves a postsecondary credential of some kind].
To some of the other comments...the 'college readiness' question is different, of course . I don't have the exact stats, but I believe that something like 50% of students starting at 4 year universities in WA must take some kind of developmental education (remediation) classes - which would be one way of defining them as 'not college ready.' If I've remembered the 50% stat correctly, if only 50% of the 29% of HS grads who go immediately to a 4 year university don't need dev ed, then one way of looking at it is that we have a 4 year college readiness rate of 14.5%.
Maureen said…
That reminds me that I posted a comment (or tried to) on the A4Ed site over a week ago (it was pretty innocuous and polite as I remember--asking if they had any comment on the EPI paper) and I got the same (awaiting moderation) reply. Still hasn't been posted. I really have been perfectly polite to them, and have only posted there once or twice, so I'm not sure what happened.
hschinske said…
I think the 30 percent stat might actually be for the percentage of entering kindergartners who lack some or all of basic pre-reading skills, an EXAMPLE of which is knowing how to hold a book.


"The results of the ECLS-K indicate that, among entering kindergartners:

* Eighteen percent cannot demonstrate familiarity with the conventions of print: they do not know that English print is read from left to right and from
top to bottom or where a story ends.

* Thirty-four percent cannot identify letters of the alphabet by name: they are
not yet at the first level of reading proficiency."

Helen Schinske
Maureen said…
I emailed Schools First and asked about the 17% number and Sharon Rodgers replied right away with the source (including links and page numbers).

It appeared in the 2008 SPS Strategic Plan, page 11.

The definition is found in on page 4 of Appendix B in Appendices. It says, in part:

Graduates meeting high school credit requirement for 4 year college (%):

Students that graduate with a Core GPA of at least 3.0 and meeting the minimum college admissions standards for 2012 as defined by the Washington Higher Education Coordination Board. Includes 4 credits of English, 4 credits of Math (includes senior year math requirement), 3 Credits of Science (including 2 credits of laboratory science), 2 Credits of World Languages, 3 Credits of Social Science, and 1 Credit of Arts. Results are for the graduating class of the school year of this report.

As Ms. Rodgers pointed out in her email, part of the problem is that Seattle has had relatively minimal requirements for HS graduation (e.g. 3 yrs of English when colleges require 4.) I think another reason the number is so low is that that it only counts students with a core GPA of 3.0 or above.

I think this makes the number easier to comprehend. I really appreciate her quick and thorough response.

The goal is to increase this number to 40% by '12-'13. I'll have to think about whether the change in the grading system will impact that one way or the other (I'm thinking that now that kids can earn a 3.0 for C in an AP class the % could increase without any material change.)
hschinske said…
I don't understand why they're throwing in an honors-level GPA* on top of the course-load thing. I mean, sure, GPA has an awful lot to do with how likely you are to get into any college, duh. But if you're talking about what the MINIMUM qualifications are to be considered college-ready, it seems to me it should be about what classes you've passed, period.

Helen Schinske

*My high school talked about A and B grades as "honors grades" -- don't know if it's a common expression.
Dorothy Neville said…
I am still having trouble with the 17% of graduates ready for four year college.

This chart has 284 class of '09 RHS grads and their plans.
22 - work, military, travel, undecided
37 community college
225 going to four year colleges. This is self reported, so I do not know how many graduates. I am fairly certain it us under 400. So let's say 400, that shows that more than 50% are clearly ready for 4 year college.

Everything I hear from Ballard and Hale and Ingraham and Garfield also suggests at least 30% of their graduates go to 4 year college? A quick check of their websites and I wasn't able to pull up any data. But if your kid goes there, perhaps you know how to navigate their site better.

Center and Nova are small, but I believe many are college bound. More than 15%? Franklin, Cleveland, RBHS, Sealth and West Seattle?
another mom said…

That 17% is questionable if not an outright lie. The Seattle Times School Guide lists the percentages of graduates bound for four year colleges. All SPS high schools are profiled except Cleveland which does not have the data available. At the time the stx were gathered, Rainier Beach had 13% going on to four yr colleges. All others were 25% and higher -much higher in most cases. I just looked and you can as well.

My apologies for being unable to provide a real link -too old and curmudgeonly to learn.
Dorothy Neville said…
Thanks, AnotherMom! I knew it had to be wrong. I didn't think of looking at the Times Summary, just trying to sort through the school websites.

I will point that out to Sharon.
another mom said…
@ Dorothy

On the Alliance4Ed website is a document titled "Promises to Keep." It references that 17% figure with a footnote that states the number is based on 2006-07 data. The information in the Times School Guide is more current, however, no way did the number of college ready jump from 17% to 47.7% in one or two years. The Alliance simply lifted the District's number out of the Excellence for All progress report or whatever it is called. How on earth did the district come up with that 17% thatis now being trumpeted as gospel?
Dorothy Neville said…
" The information in the Times School Guide is more current,"

Not really. The Times guide says that the college rates are based on 2005 graduating class.
another mom said…
"...the college rates are based on 2005 graduating class."

Doh! I missed it right in front of my nose -probably not enough coffee this morning. Thank you for the correction. However, how does the district explain the precipitous rate of decline in the number of college ready grads?
Dorothy Neville said…
No problem, Another Mom, the rest of the data is all from later years, so easy to miss that one.

Puzzling, isn't it, that college-ready graduation rates should decline so dramatically. Must be part of their Strategic Plan: Excellence for All.
Dorothy Neville said…
Just want to clarify an error I made. I got the 17% statistic from a presentation that Sharon Rodgers and Heidi Bennett made in favor of the levy. While I took decent notes and have marked WHO said WHAT for most of it, I do not have marked which presenter mentioned the 17% figure. I really thought it was Sharon, but have to apologize, because she says it was Heidi.

I do like Sharon and think she does a lot for schools and kids. I don't think she's correct that we should support this particular levy, but when she agreed to be President of SchoolsFirst, I doubt she had any idea she'd be in the position of supporting such a controversial levy.

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