Breaking down Decatur’s CRCT scores

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt July 7, 2014
The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education holds its first regular meeting in its new board room at the Beacon Municipal Center. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education holds its first regular meeting in its new board room at the Beacon Municipal Center. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

This story has been updated. 

The Criterion Referenced Competency Tests will no longer be used to measure student performance, but let the record show that City Schools of Decatur tested well.

Joseph Austin, Director of Assessment and Accountability for CSD, recently released his interpretation of the most recent CRCT results.

He said he looks at the numbers two different ways: the overall meets-exceeds rate and the mean scale score.

Austin said he obtains the mean scale score by averaging all test scores. While the meets-exceeds rate ranking isn’t quite as impressive on paper, the mean scale score puts Decatur students among the top five in the state in most subject areas.

“Obviously we’re near the top,” Austin said. “We’re well ahead of the state as an average. We rank near the top in most subject areas and in most grade levels.”

Austin said the mean scale score shows that Decatur’s high-achieving students tend to out-perform high-achieving students in other school systems.

Here are the rankings Austin calculated for CSD compared with other systems, using both the mean scale score and meets-exceeds rate.

3rd Grade
Subject CSD State Ranking by Scale Score CSD State Ranking by Meets/Exceeds %
Reading 1st 5th
ELA 1st 2nd
Math 1st 8th
Science 1st 7th
Social Studies 1st 4th

 

4th Grade
Subject CSD State Ranking by Scale Score CSD State Ranking by Meets/Exceeds %
Reading 1st 7th
ELA 1st 10th
Math 5th 22nd
Science 2nd 16th
Social Studies 2nd 8th

 

5th Grade
Subject CSD State Ranking by Scale Score CSD State Ranking by Meets/Exceeds %
Reading 1st 23rd
ELA 1st 20th
Math 5th 21st
Science 1st 10th
Social Studies 1st 11th

 

6th Grade
Subject CSD State Ranking by Scale Score CSD State Ranking by Meets/Exceeds %
Reading 3rd 46th
ELA 2nd 19th
Math 4th 8th
Science 4th 8th
Social Studies 10th 24th

 

7th Grade
Subject CSD State Ranking by Scale Score CSD State Ranking by Meets/Exceeds %
Reading 2nd 31st
ELA 3rd 11th
Math 6th 30th
Science 3rd 24th
Social Studies 24th 27th

 

8th Grade
Subject CSD State Ranking by Scale Score CSD State Ranking by Meets/Exceeds %
Reading 2nd 22rd
ELA 2nd 32nd
Math 14th 38th
Science 15th 40st
Social Studies 4th 10th

This year, the state’s public schools will switch to the Georgia Milestones Assessment system.

Austin will give a presentation on the CRCT scores at the Board of Education’s July 8 meeting. Superintendent Phyllis Edwards also will give an update on CSD enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year.

Currently, the Kindergarten classes have five more students than the projected enrollment, according to Edwards’ report to the School Board.

“We continue to monitor enrollment and the report is attached as well,” Edwards report says. “Please know that even though it is summer, emphasis is still on efforts to ensure residency when enrolling as well as once students have been seated. It appears from a preliminary check that Kindergarten numbers are above the projected enrollment figure of 375. Oakhurst remains our largest school at 459 students with Winnona Park following behind at 353.”

The July 8 City Schools of Decatur Board of Education Meeting starts at 6:30 pm and will be held at the CSD central offices, located at 125 Electric Avenue. All meetings are open to the public.

UPDATED at 9:41 pm: Several readers had follow up questions for Austin. Decaturish.com forwarded those to him and received the following answers.

Puzzled asks, “Are the 3rd graders smarter than the older students or is something working less well as the kids move up into higher grades?”

A: Due to varying curricular standards and the design of the assessments comparing scores between grade levels would not be a valid way of evaluating student achievement.

Mike asks, “1. For the meet-exceed, what is the total number of schools evaluated for each class? 2. For the scale score, what is being averaged? All scores within a grade level?”

A: There are 180 districts.  The mean scale score is an average of all scale scores in a subject area for a grade level.

Ben asks, “Why is he using mean instead of median? I don’t know the distribution of scores but I would think that median and standard deviation (or interquartile range) would be better.”

A: His question is valid because median scores can account for outliers, but the state does not provide the median.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Michael Zwick

    Hi Dan,
    I wonder if you can clarify a couple of items?
    1. For the meet-exceed, what is the total number of schools evaluated for each class?
    2. For the scale score, what is being averaged? All scores within a grade level?
    Thx,

    Mike

    • Hello Mike and “Puzzled.” I’m sending these questions to Joe Austin right now and will update this story when I get his response.

  • Puzzled

    Are the 3rd graders smarter than the older students or is something working less well as the kids move up into higher grades?

  • Puzzled

    Thanks for the update from Mr. Austen. His response demonstrates how useless the CRCT is. Valid comparisons and conclusions are limited so what’s the point? All we can tell is that we aren’t awful but not perfect. Duh. MAP testing is much more useful. And, in the end, it’s SAT, ACT, and AP (or IB equivalent) scores that make the difference for students. Looking at those shows how much room for improvement we have, although not exactly where downstream we could improve.

  • Ben

    Thanks Dan!

  • Ben

    One more question- how do individual Decatur schools compare to individual schools in other systems?

    • This one I can answer: that information hasn’t been released yet. 🙂 And you’re welcome. Happy to be able to help.

  • Ben

    One more comment! I disagree with Austen’s conclusion.
    Our ranking for mean score is high, but the ranking for %met (i.e., the % above a low cutoff value) is lower. I take this to mean that compared to other systems, we have a higher % of kids (relative to our mean) below this low cutoff value. Therefore, the “tail” of the bell curve (on the low-scoring end) is long and we have a higher number of kids (again, relative to our mean) who are not doing as well, particularly in 6, 7, 8.

Receive the Daily Email DIgest

* = required field