Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Attaining a 4-Year College Degree: Another clear measure of poverty in schools

The State of Michigan made a little splash recently when it released data from every high school and district on College Progression by Graduating Class going back to the high school Class of 2008. It provides some interesting data that is far better at generating questions than it is providing answers.

MLive decided it could use a smidgeon of the data to generate more advertising dollars by creating one of it's cute little slide shows highlighting the alleged top 48 high schools where at least 60% of the graduates from the Class of 2008 completed a four-year degree.

Of course because MLive is primarily interested in advertising dollars and does little these days to investigate anything below the surface, it failed to use readily available data such as percent of child poverty, English language learners, or special education in a school district to tell the larger story of how each can correlate to academic success.

In the chart below you get the rest of the story, at least as it pertains to members of a district's graduating class of 2008 and the percentage that attained a four-year degree as it correlates to the percentage of children ages 5-17 in that school district growing up in federally-defined poverty (U.S. Census Bureau, SAIPE, December 2014).

Each diamond represents a traditional Michigan public school district.

Oh, look! The state has spent even more taxpayer dollars accumulating data that continues to demonstrate poverty is the number one indicator of low educational attainment. Wow, imagine that. Of course, this has already been demonstrated time and time again with ACT, SAT and the Michigan MME (now M-STEP) assessments. I wonder what our high poverty districts could have done with those tax dollars instead?

Here are several resources that provide the backstory to this data.