Guest contribution by Arthur Green with editorial assistance of D. Green
Timberlane Regional School District’s mascot is an owl. Unfortunately, the district’s latest academic results are nothing to hoot about. Both SAT and Smarter Balanced scores show the district hanging by a feather above the state average while spending $800 per student more than the state average. Compared to our comparable districts, though, we’re really in bad shape. Timberlane spends $1,900 more per student for nearly identical average results. The districts that outstrip us academically spend far less.
Overview of comparable school school district SAT results
- Timberlane is slightly better than state average (+2 in English, +1 in Math), but slightly worse than the average of comparable districts (-1 in English, average in Math)
- There are 2 comparable districts, Bedford and Salem, which exceed Timberlane in both scores
- There are 4 comparable districts, Concord, Hudson, Merrimack and Rochester, that are below Timberlane in both scores
- Per Pupil costs are shown for 2016, because 2017 CPP is not yet available but will likely show similar relationships.
- My post on this topic last November discussed my methodology for selecting comparable school districts, and for comparing evaluation results which used different tests in different years.
Historic Grade 11 assessment results for Timberlane
1:00 on the graph is the NH state average score; different tests were used in different years. The most recent result (2017) was for SATs.
- The 11th Grade assessment in English has gone up compared to NH average two years in a row, and is 3% above the state average. Peak achievement in recent years was 5% above state average in 2013.
- The Math score dropped to 2% above state average compared to 5% above last year. The recent peak achievement was 8% above state average in 2013.
- Achievement has recovered from significantly weak results in 2015 – 22% below state average in Math, and 15% below state average in English
Scatter Chart of TRSD 11th Grade Assessments
What this shows:
- No consistent trend of improvement over time
- 2017 – slightly better in English, slightly worse in math
- Current results are clearly better than recent low points (2011, 2015) but not as strong as the recent high point in 2013
Comparative Scatter Chart of TRSD 11th Grade Assessments
What this shows:
- Clearly stronger results in Salem, and outstanding results in Bedford (both lower cost districts than Timberlane)
- Weaker results in Merrimack, Hudson and Concord, and terrible results in Rochester.
- Dover and Londonderry are stronger than Timberlane in English, weaker in Math. Keene matches Timberlane in Math, is weaker in English.
- Only Timberlane, Salem and Bedford exceed the state average in both English and Math
Let’s look at the cohort who wrote the 2017 SAT, the class of 2018, as they advanced through the grades…
Assessment scores of 2018 cohort:
The solid line is the Timberlane score, the dashed line of the same color is the NH state average in the same subject area. Note that this is a sequence of tests which are not strictly comparable as the assessment methods and tests change from year to year and from grade to grade.
Let’s restate the Timberlane 2018 cohort results as a fraction of the state average, or in other words, how does the percentage of Timberlane students scoring proficient or better compare with the percentage in the state who scored proficient or better, with 1.00 being the state average.
TRSD 2018 Cohort Compared with State Average (=1.00)
This shows a steep drop in achievement of this group from Grade 3 to Grade 5. Students started out in the Grade 3 assessment 10% better than the state average in Math, and 13% better in English. By Grade 5, they were just 2% above the state average in Math, and 3% better in English, which is about where they ended in Grade 11.
Another way of visualizing the same information is through this scatter chart:
On this chart, points high and to the right are good, and movement downward and to the left is bad. The axis crossing of (1,1) represents the state average in Math and English. And the progress of the class of 2018 is from a strong starting point in Grade 3 diagonally downward to that average, with some hopeful improvements (Grade 7 English in 2013, Grade 8 Math in 2014) which did not hold up for the final Grade 11 assessment.
Here’s an interesting factoid. Each of our Grade 11 students to 2017 represents an investment of $170,000 over their school careers. Our Grade 12 class of 2017 represents an investment of $181,000 each, or $54 million for the 300 graduating class.