Some Observations about ICCSD’s Junior High Schools’ Data

8th Grade NWJH APR Student Achievement Data – High Proficient NWJH APR Student Achievement Data – Proficient SEJH APR Student Achievement Data – High Proficient SEJH APR Student Achievement Data – Proficient
2013 Reading 31.02 77.55 16.22 62.5
2013 Math 42.24 81.84 24.73 71.27
2012 Reading 29.45 71.47 16.22 67.57
2012 Math 43.75 78.57 30.24 76.05
2011 Reading 30.93 70.11 24.92 69.16
2011 Math 37.11 73.88 27.64 71.43

2013 Math30.680.6

8th Grade NCJH APR Student Achievement Data – High Proficient NCJH APR Student Achievement Data – Proficient
2013 Reading 25.86 76.29
2012 Reading 18.78 76.79
2012 Math 26.52 80.66
2011 Reading 25.96 82.21
2011 Math 31.25 87.5

The above data was previously on the Iowa Department of Education (IDOE) website. The (IDOE) has taken this data down and has started to replace it with a new format; however, the replacement data does not reference the high proficiency scores and removed some of the earlier years’ data. Therefore, I am making reference to the IDOE’s earlier data. Hopefully, all of this data will be restored by the fall of 2014. If you would like to see the newer data, here is the link: http://reports.educateiowa.gov/. Click on “student reports.” I find this data interesting for many reasons.

1. This data shows that there is a difference among Iowa City Community School District’s (ICCSD’s) three junior highs in the percentage of students who are considered highly proficient based upon their standardized test scores. Northwest Junior High has the largest percentage of students who scored as highly proficient over the last three years.

2. Test scores are but one measurement of how students perform and they capture student performance for a very short time period. Plus, many students do not test well or do not direct their full attention to taking standardized tests so, in my opinion, the test scores underreport the real potential of the ICCSD’s students. Keep in mind, that the district overall has very good test scores, including those above, and many school districts across the country would be delighted to have achieved any of the above results.

3. Overall, a greater percentage of ICCSD students are proficient and highly proficient in math than in reading. I do not know why this is so. There could be many reasons such as the scores may reflect a national emphasis on STEM, junior high math courses in the district are leveled out more than reading courses, English language learners may find reading more challenging than math (although you have to read to perform math), etc. This is an area that continues to deserve attention.

4. As the ICCSD school district approaches redistricting, it is important to think about what goals are to be achieved. For example, is the goal simply to better balance the free or reduced lunch data or should test scores among similarly situated schools be similar? Additionally, if a junior high feeder system exists and the above test score patterns continue into three high schools, will the district end up with one high school whose test results are noticeably better than the others or a situation where a high school is perceived as having wealthier students overall than another?

5. The percent of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch at Iowa City Community School District’s (ICCSD’s) junior highs as reported in ICCSD’s Enrollment Report 2012-13 are as follows: North Central 19.96%, Northwest 31.88%, and Southeast 43.79%. North Central, which has the lowest free or reduced lunch percentage, has a smaller percentage of students who score as highly proficient than Northwest although the percentages of students who scored as proficient in 2012 and 2013 look very similar at the two schools.

6. The percent of free or reduced lunch students is growing although not at the same percentage rate at all schools.

7. One downside to a high free or reduced lunch percentage is that schools with a high percentage of students who qualify for a free or reduced lunch may find it more difficult to raise funds for the benefit of students than schools with a lower percentage. Were ICCSD to align each junior high with a high school, the high school associated with North Central may be able to raise the most funds per student overall. This could result in the inequitable distribution of assets across schools–i.e., students at the new north high school may, over time, have access to nicer facilities plus better stuff and/or more enrichment opportunities in their school than students at West and City.

8. My own opinion is that talking about the free or reduced lunch ratios at various schools is not enough. Perhaps even more important is asking whether similarly situated schools should have similar standardized tests outcomes? To me, this is more important than the number of students each school has.

9. I would like to see the district administration start seriously considering how it might use programming to incent students to voluntarily attend a school outside of their attendance area. Unfortunately, this seems to have been put on the back burner.

10. On a personal note, I would add that two of my own children are bused from the west side of the river to City High when, according to the school district, we would have been in the walk zone of West (a debatable point). They are having a great experience at City High, and I would recommend this high school to any parent.

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