Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Dude, a PC, and MCPS Graduation Trends

In May 2009, I performed a very rough analysis of MCPS graduation trends. The analysis, with a simple linear trend which predicted a further decline on graduation rates, was made available to the public on 8/19/2009.

The extrapolation of the downward trend for all MCPS students predicted a figure approximately midway between 85% and 90%. Today, we learn that the actual graduation rate for MCPS is 87%.

The purpose of the analysis was threefold:

1. Highlight a possible problem;
2. Demonstrate the type of analysis that a bona fide, data-driven school system should perform; and
3. Illustrate what a minimal investment in data analysis (a dude, a PC, and a few minutes) can accomplish.

No one can dispute that the analysis was rudimentary at best. However, that was exactly the point. From the gaming of Gifted and Talented identification, to falling graduation rates, MCPS has shown itself to be supremely oblivious to the story told by its own data. This, despite having a division of personnel dedicated to data analysis.

Shared Accountability” has become an euphemism for unshared data and lukewarm reports—mostly a compilation of numbers. Take a look at the reports on Global Screening. Why weren’t the good folks at the Department of Testing, Research, and Evaluation Reports, able to correlate this data with the reports of academic achievements, of the same students, to determine the efficacy of the Global Screening effort? A rudimentary analysis by this author has shown that it can be done.

Why hasn’t MCPS leadership stepped up to demand more data-driven answers to serious questions that have a direct and lasting influence on the educational future of our children? Why haven’t we demanded more of MCPS?

Are we content to let the anthem for our children be Sam Cooke’s Don’t Know Much?

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took
But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be.

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree. The analysis (linear extrapolation) was very rudimentary at best. Of course, these numbers (especially the MCPS ones) were readily available internally within MCPS and should have come as no surprise. No basic curve fitting required.


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