Jarod Apperson, a Midtown reader, sent me an interesting analysis of Georgia SAT scores, similar to one that I ran a few years ago, showing that white students in metro schools outperform suburban counterparts. Except he went a bit deeper.
Here is why he compiled the data and what he hopes we learn from it:
Since my analysis has some newer data and focuses on specific schools, people might still be interested in it. I think the fact that North Atlanta is the No. 3 public school in the state for white high school students could be a strong talking point for APS school chief Erroll B. Davis trying to get more middle-class families to stay in the public education system.
It’s a narrative that’s not heard enough.
To answer your question about how I came to look at this, I became interested in education reform a few years ago when I read a book by Paul Tough called “Whatever it Takes.” I’ve always felt that excellent public education was the best way to create economic mobility between classes.
Unfortunately, what we’ve seen for years is that schools are as good (or bad) as their inputs. In recent years, a couple of schools have shown capacity to completely alter outcomes and that gets me excited.
And here is his explanation of his chart:
The story of Metro Atlanta’s school quality has followed a consistent beat for the past 40 years. You have no doubt heard that inner-city schools are failing while schools outside the Northern Perimeter (particularly North Fulton, Cobb, and Gwinnett) are excelling. I suspect you will be interested, as I was, to find that data made available by the Governor`s Office does not support this commonly held belief.
Nationwide, there is a significant achievement gap between white/Asian students and their black/Hispanic counterparts. As such, school “quality” measures, without consideration of demographics, can become merely a function of inputs rather than a true measure of a schools’ impact on its students.
One of the less discussed components of President Bush´s controversial No Child Left Behind Act is the requirement that states break out student performance at a demographic level. As a result of the act, a wealth of detailed performance data, including demographics, has become available in recent years.
An analysis of SAT performance for Metro Atlanta´s white, public high school students yields some expected and unexpected results. As you might expect, 16 of the 25 top-performing public high schools are located in North Fulton, Cobb, or Gwinnett.
However, the very top of the list is dominated by schools inside the perimeter. Six of the 7 top performing high schools in Metro Atlanta are located inside the perimeter, with Chamblee Charter, North Atlanta, and Decatur leading the way.
What this table tells us is that Metro Atlanta´s schools are producing outcomes similar to their inputs. Intown schools have not found a way to dramatically improve outcomes for their disadvantaged students, but their wealthier, white students are doing just fine.
In fact, those white students are outperforming their suburban counterparts.
If you and your family have been considering an in-town move, but fears over school performance have held you back, it´s time to take a second look.
–From Maureen Downey for the AJC Get Schooled blog
NOTE: The data used in this analysis comprises Math and Verbal Scores for the SAT in the years 2009 through 2011. This data was retrieved from the Governor´s Office of Student Achievement on June 2, 2012. Data also including writing scores was not available at a demographically distinct level.