Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Tutorial: Using the Washington Achievement Data Explorer

by December 20th, 2011

You can easily compare state achievement test score results between school districts and between schools within a district, using the University of Washington-Bothell’s Washington Achievement Data Explorer (WADE) tool online. It was developed and is sponsored by UW-Bothell’s Center For Education Data and Research. You can also survey a broad range of student, district and school data, and see whether districts or schools are exceeding projected performance levels on achievement tests, based on percentage of low-income students. Let’s explore the Explorer. First, go to the WADE site. You’ll see a panel showing three ways to dig in.

Click on the left-most tab, “District Comparisons.” Then select grade level, and data. Grade level choices are third through eighth and tenth, and data choices include percent of students meeting the state standard on math or reading achievement tests, under “Student Performance;” or a wide range of demographic factors under “District Characteristics” or “Student Demographics.” On the left, select desired districts by checking the box next to each to be included in your customized data report.

Here’s a screen shot of a report on percent of eighth-grade students who met the state standard in math, in King County school districts. Using color coding, you can easily match the district’s name with its graph line showing performance in each of the last six years.

To isolate a particular district within the comparison graph, and see exact numbers, move your cursor directly onto the district’s name on the right of the graph and then carefully follow the graph line to different year points on the horizontal axis. This will show the exact percentage of students meeting the state standard in that subject. An example is below.

Another way to use WADE is to click on the right-most tab, titled “School Comparison.” Using the pull-down menus shown below, select “schools” for comparison, and then a particular school district.

Then you’ll use another pull-down menu to select a a performance or demographic measurement. Here are the results for percent of students meeting the eighth-grade state math standard in different Seattle public schools.

The middle of the three tabs atop the Explorer, “District Performance (Comparison Indicators)” allows users to see if a district or school is besting expected performance levels or not, based on the percentage of low-income students. This is expressed graphically in terms of a “residual,” an indicator signifying the positive or negative spread in percentage points between students actually meeting the state standard in math or reading achievement tests versus a carefully-calculated performance projection based on how many students in the district or school live at or below the official poverty level.

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