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More Money = Higher Test Scores

September 30, 2013

The SFGate ran an article by Paul Reide from the Syracuse Post Standard comparing the scores on the high stakes tests of public and non-public schools in NYS. The findings were not surprising: public and non-public schools finished in a virtual dead heat for both 2012 and 2013.

In both years, the non-public schools across the state did better on average in ELA than the public schools, but the public schools did better in math. That statewide pattern held true this year in every grade level.

But… as the article dug a little deeper, it came up with another unsurprising finding (at least to readers of this blog):

Those numbers are somewhat deceptive, though, because the regional averages for public schools smooth over the stark differences between high-scoring, relatively wealthy districts like Fayetteville-Manlius and Skaneateles and the low-scoring, poverty-stricken district of Syracuse.

Taking F-M alone, 67 percent of fourth-graders passed the math test. That’s better than all but one of the 21 area non-public schools that took the test. The top scorer was Trinity Catholic School in Oswego County, where 74 percent passed.

In English language arts, F-M’s 55 percent passing rate in fourth-grade would rank it ninth among the local non-publics.

One area where I wish Reide had probed a little deeper:

While all of New York’s public schools are required to take the exams, private and parochial schools are not.

The school district of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has its students take state tests, including Regents exams, and has embraced the Common Core standards, Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Canfield said.

On average, schools in the seven-county diocese outperformed statewide public school averages.

My questions:

  • Which private schools DIDN’T take the test?
  • Did any for-profit charters take the tests? How Did they do?
  • How about non-Diocesan religiously affiliated schools? What were their scores like?
  • How do the demographics of the diocesan schools compare with those of public schools?
  • If you omitted Syracuse’s scores from the mix how would public schools fare on the tests?
  • It doesn’t take a degree in statistics to determine that non-parochial schools must have scored LOWER than public schools if the parochial schools scored higher but ALL schools nearly matched the public school performance. Why didn’t the headline read “Public Schools Outperform Non-Parochail Private Schools on State Exams”?
  • And last, but not least, how many decades will we give the same kinds of tests and expect to get different results? We’ve proved that money makes a difference: let’s work to fix the poverty problem!

 

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