Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Student Enrollment in Idaho Schools, Part 1

Which Idaho school district with over 100 students has seen the largest percentage increase in enrollment since the dawn of the 21st century?

Meridian (or, by their new name, West Ada)? – Well, Meridian is first in numerical growth (over 11,000), but fifth in percentage growth. The state’s largest district has grown by 45% since 2001.

Nampa? – Nampa is now the state’s third largest district, with over 15,000 students, but is 8th in rate of growth, at 28%.

The fastest growing district in Idaho is the Vallivue District outside of Caldwell. Vallivue had 3888 students in 2001, and now has enrollment of 7565, according to State Department of Education enrollment statistics. That’s a rate of growth since 2001 of 95%.

Fastest Growing Districts

School districts of over 100 students that have grown by 20% (with enrollment growth) since ’01 are:
  1. Vallivue (3677) – 95%
  2. Kuna (1961) – 62%
  3. Middleton (1348) – 59%
  4. Bonneville (3581) – 47%
  5. Meridian (11237) – 45%
  6. Madison (1176) – 29%
  7. Jefferson County (1141) – 29%
  8. Nampa (3272) – 28%
  9. Teton (335) – 25%
  10. Twin Falls (1696) – 25%
  11. Kimberly (320) – 24%
  12. Post Falls (1070) – 23%
  13. Sugar-Salem (277) – 23%
  14. Dietrich (41) – 21%
Note that much of the student population growth is in three areas of the state: the Treasure Valley (Meridian, Nampa, Kuna, Middleton, Caldwell), the Idaho Falls area (Madison, Jefferson County, Sugar-Salem, Bonneville, Teton), and the Magic Valley (Twin Falls, Kimberly, Dietrich).

Fastest Shrinking Districts

On the flip side, as of the 2013 – 14 school year, 29 school districts of over 100 students have lost more than 20% of their 2001 enrollment. The ten that have lost the highest percentage of enrollment are:
  1. Culdesac – 58% (213 to 92)
  2. Kootenai - 39.6% (288 to 174) 
  3. South Lemhi – 38.8% (129 to 79)
  4. Bruneau-Grandview – 37.6% (526 to 328) 
  5. Nez Perce 37.2% (207 to 130) 
  6. Mullan 36.7% (158 to 100) 
  7. Council 34.8% (333 to 217) 
  8. Cambridge 34.2% (193 to 127) 
  9. Mackay 31.8% (258 to 176) 
  10. Salmon 31.2% (1143 to 786) 
Note that these are all small (with the exception of Salmon), relatively isolated school districts, where the loss of such large percentages of student enrollment certainly has a detrimental effect upon operations.

The median Idaho district size in 2000-01 was 942. In 2013-14 the median size was 798. Eight of the 29 districts which lost more than 20% of their enrollment were larger than the statewide median in 2001:
  1. Emmett (-20%) (2981 to 2382)
  2. Payette (-20%) (1932 to 1582)
  3. Priest River (-21.7%) (1515 to 1187)
  4. Bear Lake (-28.5%) (1501 to 1073)
  5. Orofino (-27.8%) (1419 to 1025)
  6. Oneida County (-26%) (1153 to 853)
  7. Salmon (-31.2%) (1143 to 786)
  8. Soda Springs (-20.3%) (1060 to 845)
Of the 29 districts that lost more than 20% of their enrollment, 18 have opted for a 4-day school week, while 11 have remained with the traditional 5-day student week.

Trends Among Idaho's Largest Districts
To give you an idea of changing enrollment patterns among “large” Idaho districts, here are the ten with the largest student populations, in 2001 and 2013:

  1. Boise – 26442
  2. Meridian – 25223
  3. Pocatello – 12210
  4. Nampa – 11772
  5. Idaho Falls – 10648
  6. Coeur d’Alene – 9083
  7. Bonneville – 7568
  8. Twin Falls – 6869
  9. Caldwell – 5665
  10. Cassia County - 5119
  1. Meridian – 36510 (+44.7%)
  2. Boise – 25978 (-1.8%)
  3. Nampa – 15044 (+27.8%)
  4. Pocatello – 12565 (+2.9%)
  5. Bonneville – 11149 (+47.3%)
  6. Coeur d’Alene – 10284 (+13.2%)
  7. Idaho Falls – 10263 (-3.6%)
  8. Twin Falls – 8565 (+24.7%)
  9. Vallivue – 7565 (+94.6%)
  10. Caldwell – 6277 (+10.8%)

Note: The Boise District had lost about 6% of its enrollment
(about 1500 students) between 2001 and 2007 during the “move to the suburbs”; since then, the district has grown by about 1000 students.

Idaho’s student population grew by 18% between 2001 and 2013, from just over 246,000 students to just over 289,000. Idaho’s districts grew by just 10% during that period, from 245,000 to 270,000. Why the difference? In the next post, data about the growth of charter schools in the state of Idaho.

SAT Math - Rigor and Scores of 700 and Above

In the 2013 administration of the SAT, a score of 700 or above in math ranked in the 93rd percentile nationwide. In Idaho, 247 students, or about 1.5% of the 16921 juniors who took the math subtest, scored a 700 or better on the School Day administration of the SAT. Scoring a 700 is rare, to say the least – most students scoring at this level have their choice of elite schools (of course, they also have high gpa’s, are involved in campus leadership activities, etc).

As has been pointed out in previous posts, a large percentage of Idaho’s student enrollment is concentrated in a few large districts. Over 50% of Idaho’s students go to school in the ten largest districts, and over a quarter of Idaho students attend in the three largest districts, Meridian, Boise, and Nampa.

The vast majority of SAT math scores of 700 and above were also in large districts, but the distribution pattern was very different.

Note that Boise had over a third of the state’s SAT math scores of 700 or better with 9% of the students. Meridian had 15% of the scores with 13% of the students, Coeur d’Alene 10% with 4%, Idaho Falls 6% with 4%, and so on.

In Coeur d’Alene, the two comprehensive high schools (Lake City and Coeur d’Alene) had 9 of the 25 students who scored 700 or better. Sixteen (16) of the students were from Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy. Interestingly, the class of 2014 at CDA Charter had 105 students in the 7th grade, but when the class took the SAT in 11th grade, only 76 remained, a 30% loss among the student population. CDA Charter students are clearly a special group which achieves at a high level.

Sixteen (16) of the 71 students (23%) at CDA Charter who took the SAT during the School Day administration scored 700 or above in math, by far the highest percentage in the state. The total group of 71 students’ average score was 628. Timberline High had 15 of 352 students (4%) score 700 or better in math, with an average of 503.

However, since CDA Charter has a select population, and Timberline High is a comprehensive high school, a better comparison would be a specialized group in the Boise District. For example, the Treasure Valley Math and Science Center uses teacher recommendations, test scores, and an application process to select students who want an accelerated math and science program, and provides a rigorous curriculum, as does CDA Charter. TVMSC is a half-day program offered at a center on the campus of Riverglen Junior High in Boise.

Thirty-three (33) class of 2014 students who were enrolled at TVMSC as 10th, 11th, and or 12th graders took the SAT as 11th graders. Twenty-one (21) of those students (64%) score 700 or better on the SAT math subtest. The total group of 33 students averaged 698 on SAT math.

Students who scored 700 or better were obviously very skilled in math and in problem-solving. However, this level of performance also requires a certain level of content knowledge in mathematics. Of the 88 Boise District students who scored 700 or above in 2013, 87 took Advanced Placement Calculus AB and/or BC as part of their high school math programs. This means that these students were enrolled in AP Calculus AB or Accelerated Math Analysis (or in a few cases AP Calculus BC) as juniors. The lone student who did not take Calculus took AP Statistics as a senior, and was enrolled in Accelerated Math Analysis as a junior.

Of course, a number of students who took Calculus did not score 700 or above in math on the SAT. So enrollment in these courses does not guarantee the highest scores. However, taking advanced math does appear to be a prerequisite for scoring at the highest levels in SAT math.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Goodbye, Old ISAT... what were the results?

In spring 2014-15, the state of Idaho will officially move from the NCLB-era Idaho Standards Achievement Tests (called herein the “old ISAT”), to the Smarter Balanced Assessments (also to be dubbed the “ISAT”).

Beginning in spring 2007, a new vendor, Data Recognition Corporation, was selected to administer the old ISAT, and a new test was delivered to Idaho students. That first year, 79.9% of Idaho students in grades 3-8 and 10 received a mark of “proficient” or “advanced” on the test. In math, the percentage was 75.8%. In 2012-13, in the final statewide administration of the old ISAT, the percentages were 89.1% in Reading and 80.9% in Math. So, then, the improvement in proficient/advanced percentages over the six years of old ISAT administration was 9.2% in Reading and 5.1% Math.

However, this comparison of proficiency rates conceals something much more important that was happening in Idaho’s public schools. If we examine just the percentages of advanced students in each year, we can see that important shift.

In old ISAT Reading, only a third of Idaho's 3-8 and 10 students scored in the “Advanced” category in 2007. By 2012, half of Idaho’s kids had reached that performance level. And, though the ISAT “advanced” level is not quite so high as that of the SAT, it’s clear that many more Idaho students reached a higher level of rigor in the time of the ISAT. In fact, almost 30,000 more Idaho students were “advanced” in 2012 than were in 2007.

In Math, though the growth was somewhat less than that made in Reading, it was still impressive. Again, only a third of Idaho students were advanced in 2007. By 2012, 45% were in that category. That’s an improvement of more than 17,000advanced students from 2007 to 2012.

The measurement criteria used under the NCLB law, which labeled schools “failing” if they did not meet “Adequate Yearly Progress” with as few as 34 students among their total populations, obscured the tremendous gains made by Idaho schools and districts during the administration of the old ISAT. Those gains were truly impressive.