I can’t really count the number of times that folks have confided that their concern with Ruby Bridges Elementary comes from the “test scores.” And by the “test scores” I always clarify if they mean the API scores that are generated via standardized testing. The “bad test scores” almost always serve as a rationalization to not send their kids to Ruby Bridges. Even though there are numerous studies out there that show that test scores are not an indicator of school quality, teacher quality, or student future still it seems to be the one thing that a lot of parents cling on to to justify making a decision as to where to send their kids.
While I get that parents don’t want to gamble on their kids’ education, I think the myth that test scores are some be all end all of how good a school and its teachers are really ought to be dispelled, but I’m not going to be able to do what countless scholars have been able to do before, however, I did want to point out a few things that struck me when I compared the latest API numbers (from Mike McMahon’s site, thanks!) across all the Elementary Schools in Alameda.
Right now, Ruby Bridges is in Program Improvement, which means that it didn’t make adequate yearly progress (AYP) in the same content area either school wide or for a significant subgroup. Ruby Bridges entered Program Improvement because it didn’t make AYP for one of the significant subgroups. The obvious is that the less diverse one’s school is, the easier it is to continue to make progress because that school doesn’t have significant subgroups.
Ruby Bridges is the only elementary school in Alameda with a significant number of African American Students to generate an API that will be measured for that subgroup. And one of only two elementary schools in Alameda with a significant number of Latino students to generate an API to be measured.
Also, Ruby Bridges is one of three elementary schools in Alameda with more than 50% of the school population receiving free or reduced price lunches, which usually indicates that the family is lower income and less affluent. In fact, Ruby Bridges had the highest percentage 68% of students receiving free or reduced price lunches.
Parental education is a big factor in how prepared some kids come into school. Again, Ruby Bridges is one of three schools with averages under 3.0 :
But even with the more diverse population, with subgroups that historically have been defined by achievement gaps that exist, I think Ruby Bridges and its staff have performed tremendously. And if anything is an indicator of that, it’s the number that I highlighted below, which shows the ranking of the school among schools that are similar in demographics:
While Ruby Bridges may not earn a 10 for the API score of the school, it earns a 9 amongst schools with populations that are similar which means that Ruby Bridges does much much better with the populations that it serves than other schools. And that, to me, is all the indicator that I need as to the quality of the education at Ruby Bridges, despite the lower school wide API score taken out of context.