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?

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