Testing and eating

The newspapers reported on the latest test scores for the state’s public schools. There was no mention of the most important factor that explains variance—poverty.

I’ve included a poverty proxy (percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price meals) in the following chart, which includes selected Snohomish County fourth-grade test scores from last year in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math.

Test scores 2014-2015 Snohomish County

In the county, the correlation between poverty and test results is much stronger for ELA, about .58. It’s .39 for Math. We’ll note outliers, those schools having test scores lower or higher than expected. These include Monroe and Snohomish. Their lower poverty rates suggest higher-than-actual scores.

An official with the Marysville School District was quoted by the Herald:

The Marysville School District struggled to meet state testing standards this spring. That’s not a surprise to district leaders, assistant superintendent Ray Houser said. An internal audit last fall found that the district’s curriculum, teaching methods and testing expectations did not line up, he said.

“Our focus over the next few years is working with the standards and making sure that those pieces are aligned,” he said.

That means revamping the curriculum and reviewing student-teacher interactions in the classroom.

“We’ve taken steps to correct things, but it’s going to take time,” Houser said.

I expect Marysville will boost its purchases of expensive programs from Pearson and others. Teachers and students are taking the brunt of this latest educational reform movement, which shows no signs of abating. There is much money at stake, and the reformers, led by Bill Gates et al., intend to extract as much as possible from state and local budgets.