Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Recently, the Idaho Department of Education produced a number of lists of "low performing" and "high performing" schools, based on measures such as SBAC Proficiency and Growth. Kevin Richert focused in an Idaho Ed News article on the strong relationship between the "low performing" list and poverty, and we followed up with a post on the robust connection between the "top performers" list and poverty. Then today, Devin Bodkin reported  that Bingham Academy, an eastern Idaho charter, had been reported as "high performing" by the SDE and as a "low performer by the Idaho Charter Commission.

The SDE also published a list of high performing high schools which is based on the number of students taking dual credit and Advanced Placement coursework (Advanced Opportunities).  So that got us to thinking...

The State Board of Education has an awesome site  which features data about actual college-going and persistence rates of students from high schools around the state. Presumably, if  participation in Advanced Opportunities is predictive of college attendance and persistence, then the "high flyers" in Advanced Opportunities should be prominent in the SBOE data.

So we put together a scattergram using the average percentage of students from the classes of 2011 and 2012 who were still enrolled in college after 4 years (y-variable) and free/reduced lunch percentage (x-variable). That way, we could get a glimpse of the role played by poverty in college persistence, and see which of the identified schools were truly top performers. And using 4-year persistence gets us to the point where church missions are much less a factor in college-going,  since most students have returned from their travels.

Here's a chart showing where the state's list of "top performers" came out:

As you can see, several of the schools identified by the state actually have good success with college persistence - CDA Charter, Meridian Medical. Hagerman, Grace, Genesee, for example. But others, including Marsh Valley, Grangeville, Kamiah, and Taylors Crossing Charter, are actually low performers.  And a number of others, including Ririe, New Plymouth, Malad, Victory Charter, Salmon, Compass Charter, Oakley and Mountain View, are about average.

For Bingham Charter, Vision Charter, and Idaho Fine Arts Academy, no data is yet available about persistence.

So, who are the true "high performers" based on actual persistence of students?

This chart shows that, along with Genesee, CDA Charter, and Meridian Medical, other schools with low poverty percentages with high persistence levels include Eagle, Boise, Madison, Moscow, Timberline, Twin Falls and Liberty Charter. However, among schools with FRL percentages above 40%, high flyers include Skyline (Idaho Falls), Parma, Hagerman, Aberdeen, and Garden Valley. So poverty does play a role in college persistence, as we knew it would. But there are a few high performers with high levels of poverty from whom we can perhaps learn, like Parma, for instance, which has a highly successful scholarship program for its graduates.

Also interesting is that among the lowest persistence rates are several virtual charters, including Richard McKenna, Inspire Connections, and ISucceed. Fewer than a quarter of graduates from these charters persist as college-goers after 4 years.