Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The APS Data Blog has Moved!

Today we're rolling out APSInsights.org, a new data website for Atlanta Public Schools. The new site uses many of the same visuals as the blog, but in a more accessible format and also includes additional features like school profiles and an enrollment and performance map. Please check it out and update your bookmarks or subscribe to the new blog.

For more information, visit the About APS Insights page, or see the district's press release.

Much thanks to all of our readers for using the APS data blog. This has been a rewarding project for sharing school data and we appreciate your time and feedback. We hope you'll join us on our next step!

Monday, July 31, 2017

2017 Milestones Results

2017 Milestones results were released on July 20, 2017. The visual below uses the publicly available files from GADOE's website to show achievement levels by school.

*Only grades 5 and 8 were administered social studies and science milestones in 2017.

Use the filters on the left to focus on a specific grade or subject, or to switch to elementary schools. Use the tab at the top to switch to End of Course exams (high school). The End of Course results include all test administrations that occurred throughout the year. Since this view was created with the state data files, users can also use the "System" filter to view data for other districts.

The graph is sorted by the percentage of students scoring at the beginner level, but the relative ranking changes if a different category is used. Atlanta Classical Academy, which is our middle school with the lowest poverty rate, has the highest percent of students scoring above beginner. However, Inman middle school has a much larger percentage of students who reach the distinguished level. Achievement results tend to be highly correlated with family income- see our previous post on poverty and test scores.

The achievement level view is great for understanding how students compare to state standards and to other APS schools. The description of each state achievement level is 
available here. For a summary of overall APS performance, see the superintendent's blog.

The next view converts average test scores for each school into a state percentile. This view is more helpful for comparing performance over time, across grades and subjects, and to the rest of the state.

The percentiles show a school's relative position among all Georgia schools. For example, at Burgess-Peterson they were in the 79th percentile for 4th grade math. This means their average scale score is as high or higher than 79% of schools in Georgia. This is up from 57 in 2016. For a more detailed description of the percentile view, see our previous percentile post

Note that the EOG percentiles view does not include advanced math and science students in eight grade who took an EOC, but they can be found on the EOC tab. This causes schools with a large advanced programs like Inman to have a lower 8th grade math or science percentile on the EOG view.

To see more updates on district Milestones results, follow us on twitter or use the e-mail subscription on the left.

Monday, February 13, 2017

2016 Milestones Results by Subgroup

The visual below shows Georgia Milestones results by subgroup. The filters on the left allow comparisons by district, school, exam, subgroup, and year. The default view compares subgroups by the percentage of students who scored developing or better on ELA and Math exams.

"Developing" refers to the Milestones category that indicates partial proficiency. Mouse over the details icon to see other definitions, such as "ELL". Data for this visual comes from public files provided by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement1.

The acronym, "FRL" is "Free or Reduced Lunch", which allows us to see how low-income students perform. At APS schools that use the community eligibility provision (CEP) all students are marked as FRL in Milestones reporting regardless of actual status. FRL subgroup results are not displayed for these schools.

These graphs can be used to show striking differences. For example, see the gaps in proficiency rates by race below.

Information about income gaps in the city provide helpful context for this graph. The image below, from The Upshot, shows the relationship between socioeconomic status and student achievement by school district and race. Atlanta Public Schools has one of the largest family income gaps by race in the entire country.

Regardless of the root causes, the visual representation of the gap demonstrates the need for improvement. To learn about specific strategies at APS, read about our School Turnaround Strategy

Let us know on Twitter if you use these visuals to learn something new about your school or district.

1. GOSA Milestones data files include results from summer retests. If a student did better on the summer retest, that score is included in the average. GADOE Milestones data files do not include summer retest results, so achievement levels in the GOSA file are sometimes slightly higher. For most schools the difference is 0-1 percentage points. GOSA files were used because the GADOE files do not break out subgroup scores.

Friday, January 20, 2017

APS Enrollment Data 1994-2016

The visual below shows enrollment trends at APS for the past 23 years. Each data point is from the GADOE October FTE count. Use the filters on the right to select a school or grade, or the tabs at the top to pick a different view.

APS enrollment increased for the fourth consecutive year to 51,927 students. To learn more about the types of insights available in this visual, see our enrollment blog post from last year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 Student Growth Percentiles

The Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) calculates Student Growth Percentiles (SGP) for students who take the Milestones exams. SGPs indicate how much a student's achievement grew compared to academically similar peers. To calculate a 2016 SGP score, a student is grouped with other students with similar 2015 and 2014 scores, and then given a percentile rank based on how their 2016 score compares.

GADOE then uses SGP data to find the percentage of students making typical or high growth by school and district. "Typical or high growth" is defined as an SGP of at least 35. The state average percentage of students making typical or high growth is 65% (100 - 35).

The visual below shows the percentage of students making typical or high growth by grade and subject, using SGP results from GADOE. Use the filter on the left to choose a different school or district, or the tabs at the top to switch to high school or district-level views.

In this example, we can see that students at Inman Middle School show progress at rates above the state average in most grades and subjects. Seventh grade social studies was a relative weakness in 2014, but has since recovered to near the state average. Overall, math is a relative strength, where 80% of students are achieving typical or high growth.

This visual is helpful for schools or districts to use root-cause analysis. Working with other school or district leaders, identify which grade/subject combinations are high or low-performing, or have seen significant change. Then discuss the causes of those notable data points, and how that information can be used for future improvement.

The typical or high growth calculation is also used to determine progress points on the CCRPI. However, the CCRPI only includes "full academic year" students, while the SGP data files include all tested students. The results used for CCRPI progress points might vary from the SGP files by a few points but they show the same trends.

Confidence intervals1 are displayed as blue bands. Similar to the margin of error in a poll, the confidence interval tells us the range of possible values, but the middle value is most likely. Schools or districts with few students will have wide confidence intervals; large schools and districts have more precise growth estimates so their confidence intervals will be smaller.

Although progress data is very helpful for understanding school performance it does not give a complete picture. It is also important to consider overall achievement. This is especially true in elementary school, where progress is only measured in two of the six grade levels. A helpful compliment to the progress data is the Milestones versus Challenge Index graph below. This compares achievement for schools with similar populations, and better accounts for learning that occurred before 4th grade.

For more details on this visual, see our post from last year. This year mobility has been added to the challenge index because it adds additional predictive power2. Mouse over the details mark for more information on the new challenge index calculation.

(1) Confidence intervals are calculated at the 95% level using the standard error of the sample mean. This is only one of two sources of uncertainty. Each student SGP score is also an estimate and has associated uncertainty, but is not available to us. Hence, the confidence intervals are an underestimate of the total uncertainty. We compensate for this by using a relatively large confidence interval- 95%.
(2) Mobility improved R-square from 93.3 to 94.4 for elementary schools. Charter schools are not included because of different mobility patterns due to grade bands and school zones. Similar graphs that include charters for 2016 can be found at the bottom of this article.