by Matt Rosenberg March 8th, 2013
In 11 of the 18 King County school districts reporting, the percent of eighth-grade students who passed the state math achievement test in 2012 surpassed the state average. But there was a sharp demographic divide in the outcomes. With the exception of Kent and Seattle, the 11 districts that had a higher than average percent of students who cleared that bar, have relatively higher incomes and lower minority enrollments, while all seven that underperformed the state on that measure were in South King County communities where incomes are on average lower and minority populations higher. On the eighth-grade state achievement test for reading the results were somewhat more encouraging, as 13 districts outperformed the state average pass rate and only five didn’t. On both tests, the top four districts included Mercer Island, Bellevue, Snoqualmie Valley and Issaquah. At the other end of the scale, only five King County districts underperformed the state in eighth-grade pass rates for both math and reading last year. They were Renton, Auburn, Highline, Fife and Tukwila.
Overall, pass rates for eighth-graders in reading and math state achievement tests exceeded state averages in a significantly greater share of districts than for neighboring Pierce and Snohomish counties. But even in districts with higher pass rates – in King County and elsewhere across the state – those rates may have remained fairly flat over the last seven years. Following are two King County data visualizations.
First, outcomes from 2006 through 2012 for King County school districts, for percent of eighth-graders passing the state achievement test in math, versus the state average. They are ranked on the right by 2012 outcomes, but by hovering over any district’s name, its seven-year history for the metric chosen can be tracked.
BACKGROUND: State academic achievement test data for 2012 have recently been added to the user-friendly, interactive Washington Achievement Data Explorer (WADE) database operated by the Center for Education Data and Research (CEDR) at the University of Washington in Bothell. WADE is integrated with and can be explored using tools from Google Public Data Explorer. It is a community-focused, consumer-oriented tool – not requiring media gatekeepers to bless the data, which is easily customizable, comparable, and comes directly from the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
By clicking on “Explore The Data” in the lower right-hand corner of either of the above charts, you can enter the WADE interface at Google Public Data Explorer and devise a customized report from the state data, choosing different measures and districts. Demographic data for each district, which is often correlated with outcomes, is also available. Among other features, Google Public Data Explorer provides customized HTML embed code for each data set that is constructed by users. This can be used to easily create charts like those displayed here, for Web sites or blogs. You can also enter the WADE interface, with a tutorial, through the the UW-Bothell/CEDR gateway.
Editor’s Note: some of the general explanatory verbiage in this post was borrowed from a recent post we did introducing the 2012 WADE data, looking at outcomes for eighth-graders in selected urban region districts around the state. In coming weeks and months we intend to publish here a series of related posts using the WADE tool to generate reports for various grade levels and districts in selected Washington counties.