A school’s rating of A, B or even F is directly related to the percentage of its students living in poverty. To measure a school’s instructional success would it be fairer to factor in the poverty level of its students? Listen to UCF economist Stanley Smith, Seminole County Schools’ data specialists Deborah Camilleri and Brandon McKelvey, and Midway Elementary School principal Kristina Marshall discuss ways that poverty can influence student achievement and school rankings. Length: 21.42
Why do some schools receive an A rating and others receive a C? Using official data on school achievement based on FCAT testing, Dr. Stanley Smith calculated the impact of poverty on the scores for 38 Seminole County public elementary schools. He concluded at 74% of the variation in scores among the schools could be explained by the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunch at a given school. Dr. Smith then adjusted the point scores to reflect the poverty factor which resulted in a new and higher ratings. This often moved schools with a C grade up the A level. By taking poverty into account, he believes this is a more accurate and realistic indicator of a school’s achievement. Efforts to reduce poverty will have the effect of enhancing student achievement.
Dr. Deborah Camilleri and Dr. Brandon McKelvey of the Dept. of Assessment and Accountability for Seminole County Public Schools recognize Dr. Smith’s observation of the relationship between poverty and school grades as valid. They use the data from schools struggling with disadvantaged students to guide decisions on instruction at the school level to generate student learning gains at those schools. This year understanding the factors involved in achieving student proficiency will become even more challenging as standards are being raised to an even a higher level.
Kristina Marshall was the principal at the highest scoring elementary school in the county. She is now serving at a C rated school. The former had a free and reduced lunch population of 11%, the latter a population of 76%. She commented on the similarities and differences between these schools and the effort to produce high achieving students.
Dr. Stanley Smith
Professor of Finance, University of Central FloridaBio
Dr. Deborah Camilleri
Coordinator, Dept. of Assessment and Accountability, Seminole County Public Schools
Dr. Brandon McKelvey
Performance Data Analyst, Dept. of Assessment and Accountability, Seminole County Public Schools