Friday, August 23, 2013

Michigan Top-to-Bottom Ranking - Just Another Indictment of Poverty

Michigan came out with its 2013 rendition of "which schools are struggling with poverty-related issues and which aren't." Disguised as a ranking system designed primarily to fool the public into thinking some schools are intentionally crappy while others are the creme dela creme, it really is nothing more than another blinding flash of the obvious.  Did we really need another expensive system for identifying which schools and districts have higher rates of poverty than others? Perhaps someone should tell the Department of Education that data already exists.

Click on the chart to enlarge.

The chart correlates the percent of children ages 5-17 in each school district with the overall index used to rank Michigan's public schools.  The indices from 2,567 mostly traditional, community-based public schools were used along with the poverty data from their respective school district. Only charter schools were used if they constituted an entire district or it was obvious which district they were located within.

The Pearson R-factor for this chart is -0.584 indicating a strong correlational relationship between the two sets of data. The red line illustrates the correlational trend.

In the next chart, schools are grouped by deciles based on their respective Michigan Top-to-Bottom ranking for 2013 (from 0 to 99th percentile). The chart illustrates the average poverty percentage for children ages 5-17 in the districts comprising each decile. It is abundantly clear that lower poverty districts rank higher on the TTB and vice-versa for higher poverty districts.

Click on the chart to enlarge.

Poverty percentages for each school district come from the United States Census Bureau, Small Area Estimates Branch, 2011 SAPE with a release date of December 2012. The school top-to-bottom indices are from the Michigan Department of Education website for School Accountability.

You can view and/or download the table of data used in this post at

Below are four charts from a previous post of mine back in March 2013 (originally on the Posterous blog site which has since gone defunct). I add them here just to continue the demonstration of how poverty strongly correlates with achievement. They represent 515 Michigan traditional community school districts from the Fall 2013 MEAP assessments. Once again, you can click on any chart to enlarge it for better viewing.

The data here and in other, more rigorous research is irrefutable and damning. So, the question is when are we going to quit wasting time collecting data that only tells us the obvious and spend more time and other resources on ending poverty and overcoming the effects of inequity in school funding?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Just the Facts from OECD

Percent of child poverty in OECD countries, 2009

Did you know? 

U.S. teachers spend between 1,050 & 1,100 hours a year teaching – much more than in almost every country.

"Despite high overall levels of spending on education, teacher salaries in the U.S. compare poorly. While in most OECD countries teacher salaries tend be lower, on average, than the salaries earned by other workers with higher education, in the U.S. the difference is large, especially for teachers with minimum qualifications." ~ p. 8

"On average, primary school teachers in the U.S. spend almost 1,100 hours a year teaching, while lower secondary teachers teach for about 1,070 hours, and upper secondary school teachers spend about 1,050 hours. With the exceptions of lower and upper secondary teachers in Argentina and Chile and lower secondary teachers in Mexico, teachers in the U.S. teach for many more hours than other countries average: 782 hours for primary education, 704 hours for lower secondary, and 658 hours for upper secondary). Notably, while the number of hours of teaching per year tends to decrease with each education level in most OECD countries, the number of teaching hours in the U.S. is roughly the same in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education." ~ p. 9

"In general, the ratio of students to teaching staff in U.S. schools does not depart dramatically from the OECD average. In pre-primary education, the ratio is 14.6 (OECD average: 14.4), although the ratio of pre-primary students to all contact staff (11.4) is below the OECD average (12.3). In primary education, U.S. schools have a lower-than-average student teacher ratio of 14.5 (OECD average: 15.9).

"Meanwhile, at the secondary level, the student-teacher ratio in the U.S. is higher-than-average for both lower secondary education (U.S.: 14.0; OECD average: 13.7) and in upper secondary education (U.S.: 15.0; OECD average: 13.0)
" ~ p. 10

Friday, August 9, 2013

Who's REALLY Representing YOU?

Who's really representing YOU in Lansing? Here's a partial list of current and former Michigan legislators that are members of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). What is ALEC? Glad you asked.

ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Now go check out the list at  You may or may not be surprised but at the least, you'll be informed.