170K PDF via a kind Andrew Statz email:
1. Students who have spent more time in MMSD perform better on the WKCE than their peers who have spent less time in MMSD.
2. Students who have spent more time in MMSD are demographically different from recent arrivals, who are less likely to be white and more likely to be low-income.
3. When controlling for demographic characteristics, the effects of additional years in MMSD on WKCE scores are largely ambiguous.
Based on these findings, MMSD may be better served by refining its core curriculum to meet students’ needs based on demographic characteristics rather than the recency of their arrival in MMSD. The recent arrivals report is attached. Our official statement about our findings follows.
The most notable anomaly is among 10th grade students. In both Reading and Math, 10th grade students who had spent one year in MMSD performed as well as students who had spent their entire careers in MMSD and substantially better than new students as well as students who had spent between 2 and 9 years in MMSD. This suggests that students who enter MMSD in 9th grade are altogether different from students who enter in other grades. The high performance level for students spending one year in MMSD prior to 10th grade may reflect students entering MMSD in 9th grade after attending private schools through 8th grade.
It is the district’s responsibility to meet students where they are in their learning and identify needed interventions, enrichment or other programs to advance that learning. That means we need to have curriculum and programs that work for all of the students we serve, regardless of demographic background or how long they have been in the district.
Unfortunately, we know that achievement gaps exist in schools across the country, and no single district has entirely eliminated them. Focusing only on how long a student has been in our district does not underscore the complexity of the issue and is not the most effective predictor of achievement.
Instead, strengthening classroom instruction and ensuring interventions and enrichment that advance learning for every student regardless of demographic characteristics will yield the best results.
However, we do know that mobility, including moving from another district or moves within MMSD, does have some impact on achievement. Exploring community solutions to enhance stability throughout a student’s education could both increase achievement and help close gaps.
Related: Madison’s Mayor on Transfer Students & The Achievement Gap; District Plans to Release Data “Within 3 Weeks”.
Larry Winkler kindly published a more detailed analysis, here.
I asked several observers for their perspective on the rhetoric, assertions and the Friday report. Here’s one:
“When the data were first presented, the argument put forth was that the performance of newly arrived students explained much of the performance gap that we see in our schools. However, when the District examined the effects of race and socioeconomic status in the analysis, they found that the performance of low income and minority students who had been in the MMSD for many years was not significantly different from the performance of low income and minority students who were new to the District.
It is disappointing that the District and the Mayor’s office ran so far and so fast with their initial, incomplete analysis.”
UPDATE: Larry Winkler kindly created a set of charts scaled by percentages.