The State of Ohio seems to be in denial- the standardized tests that we use to rate schools are more indicative of the students economic status than any correlation to school funding, quality of education, or ethnicity, yet, we’ll continue to use the data to fix the wrong things:
Randy Hoover’s research showed Ohio has a large poverty gap in test performance between poor students and their wealthier classmates, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Hoover said the correlation of nonschool factors like median income with test performance was off the charts.
“This is an extremely high correlation for social science research,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything this high.”
Hoover’s findings support a Dayton Daily News 2006 study of test performance and poverty in Ohio’s 610 school districts that produced similar results. For that study, the newspaper’s computer analysis of the impact of several student characteristics on test scores found median income of the district had by far the most powerful impact on its test performance.
Hoover’s study went further. The three factors he found were most likely to predict test performance were the percentage of single parent wage earners, the percentage of poor children and the median family income in the district.
Combining those factors for what Hoover called the “lived experience index.” He found they were responsible for at least 61 percent of a district’s test performance.
Hoover studied about 60 variables to see which correlated best with test performance.
“On most of them I got no correlation whatsoever,” he said.
Karla Warren, a state education department spokeswoman, said the study does not fairly reflect efforts to ensure tests treat students of all wealth levels and ethnicity evenly.
“The Ohio Department of Education doesn’t support the findings of this study, and we stand by our tests,” she said. “Our tests undergo a detailed review process.”
But Hoover argues the study shows Ohio draws invalid conclusions about the quality of school districts by using tests that largely measure how poverty impacts each district.
In fact, when Hoover, an education professor and former classroom teacher, looked at school district performance after controlling for “lived experience” factors, he found a different range of school district test performance — far more high poverty districts scored well and more wealthy district scored badly.
“There are as many school districts with advantaged students significantly underperforming as there are school districts with disadvantaged populations,” Hoover wrote. “The stakeholders reading the Ohio school report cards have no way of knowing if the schools and districts are actually advancing academic achievement.”
When I first ran for Mayor, I said Dayton was now characterized by economic segregation which was way more heinous than racial segregation. I wasn’t taken seriously then either.
It’s easy to test these results- let’s start distributing poor kids around to all the school districts- so that no more than 15% of any school is below poverty level: Oakwood, Centerville, Beavercreek, Springboro- and then we’ll reexamine test scores.
Benjamin Disraeli once said “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” One day, maybe the liars we elect will learn how to use statistics properly.