It's almost back-to-school time. So let's look at the Richardson ISD by the numbers. Specifically, the numbers from SchoolDigger.com: "K-12 school performance data at your fingertips." RISD's overall numbers can tell any story you want.
"Steady as she goes": RISD consistently ranks in the top half of all school districts in Texas.
"Sound the alarm": RISD dropped from the 86th percentile in 2010 to the 56th percentile in 2015.
"Back on Course": RISD climbed from 56th percentile in 2015 to 72nd percentile in 2017.
So have at it. What's your story?
When you dig into the scores for individual schools, the stories can get really imaginative. Like seeing animals in clouds.
Out of 4,308 public schools in SchoolDigger.com's database, RISD's Brentfield Elementary ranks 26th. Thurgood Marshall Elementary ranks 3,966. Both schools in the same district, with the same district policies, same curriculum, same central administration. What could be different? Maybe you can spin a story about school administrators and teachers, but I'll probably look to demographic differences to explain these numbers. A classic story that's still good: Demography is destiny.
Year-to-year variability in rank is harder to settle on a story. One school climbed 1,318 places in one year. Another school dropped 1,232 places. In one year. Same school district. How do you explain that? Student turnover might explain some differences, but that much? New students coming in generally match the profiles of students leaving. They are often from the same household. Overall, in general, on average, I'd expect their academic performance to be similar. Just noisy data? Maybe, but those are some huge differences to explain by noisy data. Apples-to-oranges from year-to-year? Maybe, if the underlying tests changed from year-to-year, scores of different schools might be affected differently. If the explanation is major changes the district made, why would one school rocket upwards and another crash? I don't have enough imagination to tell a story with this data. Or at least a story that I am confident isn't just a fairy tale. Maybe the teachers, administrators and parents at each individual school can tell their own unique story. Or maybe the folks who have lost all faith in testing, ranking and rating in general have a compelling story.
Every number tells a story. Tell me yours.