Last week I wrote a post about the latest exaggerated claim about the success of the P-Tech high school in New York City. P-Tech is a ‘miracle’ school that Joel Klein is very proud of and even Obama once touted it in a State of The Union address.
The claim tweeted by the principal of P-Tech and retweeted by Klein was that the school has 83% of its students ‘college ready’ in math which would make it one of the top schools in the city by that metric. I investigated and found that there are several ‘college ready’ in math metrics and by all of the others, P-Tech has some of the lowest ‘college ready’ in math numbers.
Students in New York are deemed ‘college ready’ in math if they can get over an 80 on one of the three math Regents exams. Algebra I is generally taken in 9th grade, Geometry in 10th grade, and Algebra II in 11th grade. The school had about 11% of its students scoring over an 80 on Algebra I, about 2% scoring over an 80 in Geometry, and 0% scoring over an 80 in Algebra II. Where the 83% number came from, I haven’t figured out yet.
If P-Tech students really were proficient in 9th grade Algebra I, then they should perform nearly as well in Geometry since it is the next course. But their 1.6% getting college ready in Geometry is a relevant statistic I think since if they peak in 9th grade (advanced 8th graders often take the Algebra I Regents, actually) that would not make someone ready for college after graduating. So I showed in a scatter plot that P-Tech had the lowest Geometry scores, by a wide margin, than any other schools that had a comparable generic ‘college ready’ in math score.
The principal of P-Tech responded:
So Davis is saying that it is not fair to compare his schools Geometry college ready numbers to schools that had comparable generic math college ready numbers since those other schools did not have 86% Black students and did not have 8th grade incoming scores of 2.31 out of 4.
So to address this concern that my comparisons were unfair, I produced two new scatter plots. One compares percent of Black students to percent of students scoring ‘college ready’ in Geometry. P-Tech is the yellow dot. As can be seen, P-Tech is hardly an ‘outlier.’ It is actually one of the lowest performing schools with between 80% and 90% Black students.
Then I made a plot comparing incoming 8th grade scores to Geometry college ready percentages for all high schools. Again the P-Tech yellow dot is way at the bottom, even for other schools whose incoming students had 8th grade scores around 2.3 like theirs.
So I believe I’ve addressed all the concerns that the principal had about my original plot being somehow unfair comparisons. I will share this post with him and report back if he believes that these plots are also unfair comparisons.