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Dispelling the Myths: Focus Schools. Understanding Common Concerns about the Focus School Metric August 2012. Focus Schools. What are they? How are they determined? How do Focus Schools compare to Non-Focus schools? What happens once a school is named?

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dispelling the myths focus schools

Dispelling the Myths: Focus Schools

Understanding Common Concerns about the Focus School Metric

August 2012

focus schools
Focus Schools

What are they?

How are they determined?

How do Focus Schools compare to Non-Focus schools?

What happens once a school is named?

How does a school exit Focus School status?

what are focus schools
What are Focus Schools?

Schools with the largest achievement gaps.

Achievement gap is defined as the difference between the average scale score for the top 30% of students and the bottom 30% of students.

This methodology is an improvement over using a solely demographic-based gap methodology because it targets achievementgaps.

what are focus schools1
What are Focus Schools?
  • Focus schools are merely one of many methods in the system to identify schools in need of interventions and support.
  • Identifying Focus Schools is a critical component to Michigan achieving key goals:
    • -to close the achievement gap within schools
    • -to reduce the achievement gap statewide
understanding the bottom 30
Understanding the “Bottom 30%”
  • The bottom 30% subgroup is comprised of the traditional ESEA subgroups.
  • All “traditional” subgroups are represented.
  • Most commonly occurring subgroups in the Bottom 30%:
    • students with disabilities
    • limited English proficient students
    • black/African American students
    • economically disadvantaged students
focus schools overall
Focus Schools Overall
  • Focus schools have even higher concentrations of the subgroups (mentioned previously) in their bottom 30% subgroup than non-Focus schools.
  • This indicates that the Focus methodology is
    • still detecting differences in achievement in traditional subgroups
    • identifying schools where there are not only large achievement gaps in general, but where there are also large gaps between demographic subgroups
    • identifies schools that otherwise may not be identified using traditional subgroup methodology
more about the bottom 30 subgroup
More about the bottom 30% subgroup
  • Analyses conducted to determine if the bottom 30% subgroup consisted solely of any demographic subgroup
  • To address the question:
    • Does the bottom 30% “solely” consist of any one subgroup?
focus schools overall1
Focus Schools Overall
  • Focus schools have even higher concentrations of the subgroups (mentioned previously) in their bottom 30% subgroup than non-Focus schools.
  • This indicates that the Focus methodology is
    • - still detecting differences in achievement in traditional subgroups
    • - identifying schools where there are not only large achievement gaps in general, but where there are also large gaps between demographic subgroups
    • -identifies schools that otherwise may not be identified using traditional subgroup methodology
common concerns about this metric
Common Concerns about this metric
  • Are Focus schools only high-achieving schools?
  • Are Focus schools only high socioeconomic status schools?
  • Is the bottom 30% subgroup in Focus schools actually high performing?
  • Are schools more likely to be Focus schools if they have [fill in the blank group] kids?
bottom 30 high performing
Bottom 30% High Performing?

Is the bottom 30% subgroup in Focus schools actually high-performing?

Is the bottom 30% subgroup in Focus schools higher than the top 30% subgroup in non-Focus schools?

Is the top 30% subgroup in focus schools higher-performing than non-focus schools?

answer no
Answer: No

Across all subject areas and E/MS and high school, the bottom 30% subgroup consistently had average achievement z-score below zero, and most of them are between -0.5 and -1.5.

example e ms reading
Example: E/MS Reading

Top 30%

Bottom 30%

are certain types of schools more likely to be focus schools
Are certain types of schools more likely to be Focus schools?

Have not detected any significant patterns yet

Continuing to analyze the data

Because metric compares top 30 percent of kids to bottom 30 percent of kids in the school, it’s unlikely the gap is being driven exclusively by one group or type of kids.

is there a relationship between the economic disadvantage gap and the achievement gap
Is there a relationship between the economic disadvantage gap and the achievement gap?

Hypothesis: Schools with a range of student economic disadvantage are more likely to be Focus schools, because the higher income kids are all in the top 30% and the low income kids are all in the bottom 30%

This would make the metric a proxy for socioeconomic gap, not achievement gap

example e ms reading1
Example: E/MS Reading

Top 30%

Bottom 30%

questions
Questions?

See “Focus Schools Facts and Figures” on www.mi.gov/focusschools for more detail on these graphics

Contact mde-accountability@michigan.gov

Call 877-560-8378, option 6 to speak with a member of the Evaluation Research and Accountability Unit