Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Billingsville tops Washam? Maps give new twist

MeckEd has updated its map of CMS schools to add data on the percentage of students who made at least a year's gains on state reading and math exams last year, and the results can be surprising. Some high-scoring schools, such as Washam Elementary in Cornelius, fared poorly on those measures, while the low-scoring Billingsville landed near the top on the growth list.

That's because a school like Washam starts the year with most students performing at or above grade level. Those students are likely to stay in the "passing" category,  leading to a high proficiency score (87 percent last year)  even if their scores don't advance as much as expected.  Billingsville, where most kids are poor and some are homeless or refugees,  has the opposite situation:  Even if teachers help them make a year's progress or more,  the students may still fall short of grade level at year's end (last year's pass rate was just under 50 percent).

Bill Anderson,  a former CMS principal who heads MeckEd,  calls the growth ratings one of the most important measures of school success.  The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute worked with MeckEd,  a nonprofit information and advocacy group,  to map the state growth data for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. They included the percent of all students who made a year's gains in reading and math,  and a separate breakout for the students at each school who were on grade level when they arrived.  Anderson said the second measure is designed to provide a look at how stronger students fare at each school.

At Billingsville,  for instance,  only 45 percent of all students made a year's gains in reading, but almost 82 percent of those who were reading on grade level made those gains.  In math,  86 percent of all students and 96 percent of those who started on grade level made a year's growth.

One thing that jumps out,  especially for middle schools,  is the profusion of red dots on the MeckEd maps. The group decided to use the red label for any school where fewer than 70 percent of students logged a year's growth,  with yellow and green for higher levels.  Anderson said that's not intended to pass any kind of judgment on schools, but to get discussion started:  "MeckEd's goal is to provide objective,  clear information."


Anonymous said...

MeckEd's objective is very similar to the clear objective its leader had at Myers Park, obfuscation of data, making sure certain groups disappear from enrollment records, and spin, spin, spin.

Anonymous said...

And what exactly did Cobits do for his former huge CMS salary? Baxter?

Anonymous said...

WOW Bill Anderson he is bought and paid for by CMS/Gorman and the chamber. Who funds his group just ask that one question. He needs a minority on his board so he can go get some LIFT money. He is a old Principal who does not want to work anymore. He makes a salary of $150,000 plus throwing around data and acting interested. Heck with those qualifications he should have been at the airport yesterday or today.

Anonymous said...

Sorry educrats, Chamber and other cheerleaders, CMS data is tainted beyond any beliveable scenario. Take off the cheerleader uniforms. The good people of Mecklenburg County have given up on CMS except for a few enclaves. And they know you want to destroy those also. Your strategy is in place to do like shown last year when the performance of the top end dropped. We know you do not care about them. You better hope this economy does not turn around or this system will be 95% poverty.

Ann Doss Helms said...

In January 2011, Peter Gorman gave MeckEd $125,000 from a grant he'd received from the Spangler Foundation to conduct a budget-related PR campaign. That raised some questions about MeckEd's independence, especially since the group did not disclose that funding source up front. But I did ask Bill Anderson about the current information, and he said MeckEd gets no money from CMS now. This was paid for by the group's corporate and foundation donors:

Wiley Coyote said...

Again, "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"....

Wiley Coyote said...

Two high schools with no proficiency data.

I guess we're supposed to believe the rest of the data?

Also, take a look at the dismal state of elementary school proficiency, yet by high school, only one red dot - West Charlotte.

Curious, so does that mean CMS is doing a good job from middle school on (fewer red dots for middle schools)?

How does pre-K factor into all those elementary red dots? I would think with the $20 million per year being poured into Bright Beginnings, we'd see better results.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte - #1 in public school maps!

Anonymous said...

I swear, I really may wallpaper my bathroom with CMS maps.

Or, perhaps I'll apply for an elementary school arts grant that integrates CMS maps, IPads and a lesson plan courtesy of CMS's data department.

Or, perhaps a paper mache or origami project?

Modern map dance? Definitely doable. Like the whirling dervish spin, spin, spin idea....

Anonymous said...

Unemployment in Mecklenburg County increased last month. It is above NC's unemployment rate and much higher than the nation's unemployment rate. Economists at the BOCC retreat last month indicated Mecklenburg County has regained only 10% of the jobs it had lost and recovery would be very long term.

Might this be more a function of outsiders doing their own research of Mecklenburg County before they move here and find that should live in a surrounding county or state even if their company locates here? Also is it why most companies in the last 13 years I have been involved with this recruitng effort have included private school tuition for most if not all their relocated employees?

Anonymous said...

Most Charlotte real-estate companies only list "good" schools in their advertising. If a house is for sale in the Providence Elem., JM Robinson MS and Providence High zone, the real-estate company will list all three. Houses for sale in less desirable school zones don't have schools listed at all. If a family is relocating to Charlotte, the easiest way to determine if a school zone is good is simply looking to see if 3 schools are listed on a real-estate fact sheet. If 3 schools aren't listed (elem., middle and high), buyer beware.

Wiley Coyote said...

Washam - 1,006 students, $4,594 per pupil

Billingsville - 480 students, $7,312 per pupil.

Let me see if I understand this..

At Billingsville, for instance, only 45 percent of all students made a year's gains in reading, but almost 82 percent of those who were reading on grade level made those gains.

45% or 216 students made a year's gains.
55% or 264 did not make a year's gains.
82% "of those" who were already on grade level made the gains - or 177 students?
So the remaining 12%, or 39 students, of the 45% were not on grade level but excelled very well and joined the other 177 already on grade level at the beginning to achieve a year's gain?

Data is such fun!

Anonymous said...

Average yearly progress is a joke for advanced students. The literacy faciliator at my son's school said that they have students who would need to make 100% on the eog's to show growth. It's crazy to make the schools with the brightest students appear to be less successful than lower performing schools. My 4th grader reads on a 12th grade much more can he be expected to "grow" this year?

Wiley Coyote said...

*...remaining 18%, or 39 students, not 12%.

Anonymous said...

Bill Anderson should be back in a school in leadership role. He is a principal who took a Meck Ed job , because it paid more. He is coughing on chamber,Spangler,Gorman money folks make no mistake. Wileys's number contradict everything Anderson just showed to Ann ! It probably took him 20 minutes to compare.

Wiley Coyote said...

I don't think my numbers really contradict anything, but perhaps show the ambiguity of them and point trying to be made.

The numbers on the map are correct but the real issue to me is how they are reported and interpreted.

Terms like "gains", "passing", "growth", "proficiency", etc are tossed around like ingredients in a salad.

Sometimes you get so many ingredients, you don't know what kind of salad you're eating.

I believe this is what gets CMS in more trouble than it's worth.

Just simplify the data and what you're trying to achieve for God's sake.

This is from the Billingsville website:

The 2010-2011 School Year was a year of reform for the Billingsville Elementary Staff and Students.

The staff and students have embraced the family model. The days where teachers had one class and students had one teacher are over. We are a family and we all work together towards a common goal.

Students now have the opportunity to be taught by many different teachers within their grade level family. Although there are still things that we would like to improve upon as a school, we have made 22 points growth from last year to this year.

We are extremely proud of our students hardwork this school year!!!

A 22 point growth from last year to this year... OK...growth of?

Billingsville ranks 101 out of 103 in performance, with Byers and Druid Hills the only schools ranking lower. Only one of the bottom three are in Project LIFT.

So while Billingsville is getting $2,718 dollars per pupil more than Washam, they aren't getting a dime of LIFT money.

Anonymous said...

Billingsley was the school 2 or 3 years ago where they added more time to the school day. Within 3 months, teachers were dropping like flies. While the exodus was of similar degree as other type schools, no one would even touch the question if the added strain of longer days and the push for higher EOG performance had anything to do with it.

Anonymous said...

WC, now there is a candidate for Chief Accountability Officer.

Anonymous said...

It's called regression to the mean. If you're on the very bottom, there's only one way to go, and that's up regardless of what is or is not done. The best of the worst.......... that's CMS.

Wiley Coyote said...

From recent events, this video is an example of how CMS comes across delivering their data.

Must see:

BolynMcClung said...


Several weeks ago I saw the honor roll for a middle school. 17 students in 6th grade. 10 students in 8th. Total students for school, 630. The honor roll took up ¼ column in a tabloid newspaper. There is a nearby middle school that has an honor roll that fills-up almost a full page.

7 more students in 6th than in 8th might be regression to the mean. In this case I’ll take progress in any form. I hope next year’s 6th grade honor roll will be larger. That would be a measurable trend.

I have a request in for all the middle school honor rolls. I believe that will be the unvarnished predictor of high school achievement that is needed. This will be a fair measure of what’s in the pipeline.

What I need help on is an accurate answer on whether an 8th grade honor roll student at one school would be on that level at another. A simple example of that would be if a student wrote a “A” grade paper at one school would it be an “A” at all others.

Anyone have a verifiable answer or thoughts?

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...

Good question Bolyn.

Pretty much sums up what I said about apples, asparagus, kiwi fruit and rhubarb.

How are they related other than all being in the produce department?

Anonymous said...

At least we're back to having honor rolls. For a while, honor rolls were out of favor because our innovative educational system didn't want to hurt anyone's self-esteem.

Anonymous said...

I know a kid who won a Martin Luther King Day essay award their first 5 months in CMS after spending 8 years at Charlotte's most expensive private school. CMS wanted to put the kid on a parade float to showcase the system's stellar achievements. I swear, I can't make this stuff up.

Anonymous said...

Boyln and WC, what is an "A" at one may or may not be an "A" at another school is the question you are posing. Next year it will be not that difficult to determine. CMS goes to Standard Core next year and for example, all 5th graders across the state will take the same test at each time interval. It is going to be a riot. I can not wait to get a beer in a few teachers away from work.

Of course the innovative educrats will figure some way to make what would be a C at one school look like an A at another. Maybe the kids wil be given check blocks that will create adders to their grade like Are you in a project LIFT school? Are you on FRL? Do you live in Districts 3, 4, or 5?


BolynMcClung said...


Just a note about Common Core and the superintendent search. CMS, under Ann Clark's guidance has been preparing for Common Core for 18 months. I'm not pushing anyone candidate over another. But the person sitting in the Super's chair next year will reap the benefits of her hard work. Maybe the last Superintendent should get a little credit for this too.

Bolyn McClung


Anonymous said...

Common Core is just a notebook with expected objectives in each subject by grade. It's the same material many teachers have used since the 1970's. It's an organizational expectation of cookie cuttering for the entire country. I don't see how Ms. Clark has any more advantage than others. The "professional development" has been regurgitated pablum from this summer's sessions. The major benefit is a written format for educrat CYA nationwide. No matter who controls CMS, there will always be conflict with NCDPI.

Anonymous said...

Bolyn- The guy in the chair the last 4.5 years you reference that will leave the next super so much common core love how many MILLION dollars did he spend on it? How many dollars did we Million dollars did we pay him for his services? How much is paid out in his pension we kept him on at the end when he quit after telling us he would never quit? (should have let him leave rather than keeping him to hit that 5 year pay out term) Al this when they new we were going to Common Core from the state for FREE ! Your drinking the POWERADE they serve at the airport again. We have wasted millions already on Common Core when it was coming for free. Our kids can handle Common Core problem with it is CMS will not be able to LIE and FABRICATE data/ TEST SCORES. Dont drink it Bolyn you sound like AMELIA from D-6 when you chug the KOOL AID!! NEVER BELEIVE OR SUPPORT A BILL ANDERSON OR PETER GORMAN SUPPORTED REPORT OR OPINION. Neither is trusted or has a INKLING of a CORE VALUE. ENJOY

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 8:39

Pick a superintendent...

The taxpayers in Mecklenburg County have been the recipient of the "gift that keeps on giving", called Bright Beginnings. That present given to us by Eric Smith back in the late 90's which we're still funding today without any data to back it up.

This from 12 years ago:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Eric Smith cleared the way for a leadership change Friday, officially resigning in exchange for a package that includes a $49,000 bonus and retirement benefits.

Smith has agreed to start leading the schools in Annapolis, Md., on July 1. In an emergency meeting Friday afternoon, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board voted 6-3 to pay Smith through June 30 and give him the $9,300-a-year retirement benefit he would have earned then.

Lassiter, the only one who spoke publicly about his concerns, said a phased-in retirement benefit was designed to encourage Smith to stay in Charlotte. The benefit kicks in June 30, when he becomes eligible for about $9,300 a year, and would have grown to $46,458 a year had Smith stayed until 2006. It will cost about $69,000 to set up the retirement account to pay $9,300 a year starting when Smith turns 60, Lassiter said.

Has Smith turned 60 yet?

CMS Penalty for Performance Plan said...

Help me understand all you wise bloggers. My child is at one of the highest performing schools in CMS. But the school gets one of the least dollars per pupil in CMS. How is this not a penalty for performance plan? What heights might my child achieve if the school was fully funded? This is equity for all?

Anonymous said...


The teacher has 36 to 40 students per class that has a per pupil spending ratio that is $3000 less. They do not get the TEP (PfP) raise that the teacher gets at the Project Lift school.That teacher has half of the students with almost twice as much funding. How many suburb teachers will be left when this scenario plays out

Anonymous said...

9:35, sorry but the prevailing educrat theory now is they can keep cutting your child's school to $2k per pupil and your child will score no lower. Overall, your school has topped out for any more achievement. It is not worth their effort to spend more money at your school because the kids score so well now, they cannot obtain greater than one year's growth anymore.

Anonymous said...

10:11, suburban teachers get to "teach". Parents flood to volunteer for all sorts of activities. Fundraising is generally successful. Generally student come to school prepared to learn, behave and have respect for others. Now there are a few exceptions but those exceptions are the rule at urban school. Baby mommas will not show up for conferences. They will not send the kids to school prepared to be taught. They expect you to supply school supplies. The first time they will show up they will be cursing you and calling you names and screaming at the top of their lungs. And if there is a disagreement, the rpincipal will hang you out to dry.

Just a sampling. I can go on. I have had kids in both schools and have been in classrooms and principals' offices for first hand observation. I have consoled upset teachers.

Anonymous said...

9:35 equity for all? Are you serious? You do not understand the word equity. It does not mean anything close to equal. It means if a student needs more to achieve the same levels, they get more. And if they still do not achieve at the same level as the suburban student, then they have not gotten enough and they will get even more. However, no matter how much you spend, they will never achieve equally.

We Are Anonymous 9:35 said...

If I am getting this correct, it is not the goal of CMS to have my child excel to performance potential. CMS is shaving off the high end of the performance curve to buttress the lower end?

Note to CMS: "Global competitiveness does not begin by holding back high achievers." This needs to become a mantra in Mecklenburg.

In addition to paying more taxes than our volunteerism and support for school as community center is rewarded with intentional underfunding.

Social change is what it takes to improve a community’s educational performance. This is where the millions of wasted testing and other programs money could have been spent.

My kids deserve the best. They study more, read more, try harder and their performance shows. Robbing my school to pay for failed programs elsewhere is poor public management. CMS should strive to excel at what it is mandated to be: a public K12 education agency.

We Are Anonymous.

We do not forgive.

We do not forget.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I hope that you are able to attend some of the Project Lift’s “talent” meetings. They are forcing out large numbers of some of the most dedicated, effective teachers from the schools targeted for Project Lift. No one has been able to explain this. These teachers with the smarts, experience, and devotion to their schools can not be easily replaced. Gorman was never able to replace excellent teachers he removed from the system for years. This is why CMS is continuing to struggle to this day.

Anonymous said...

Could the force out actually be harvesting for other non-lift schools?

Anonymous said...

5:52- Project LIFT is forcing out good teachers because they are not black and will not play to LIFT model. That is bitch , Bitch and Bitch some more until someone listens. If they dont hall in the NAACP and Kojo and raise hell. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen LIFT I have been too their meetings they dont have a dam clue about education its about blacks being blacks with blacks. Its not going to change a dam thing !

Anonymous said...

There has been a movement for some time by many community forces to create a set of all black schools with West Charlotte regaining its crown of national distinction it had post busing order.

However they fail to realize these communities have changed. The successful males and families have long ago left and their are no role models other than wanna be gangsta thugs and babby mommas.