Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Symbol of hope vs the Hawthorne Effect

Via Joanne Jacobs: Philadelphia Inquirer 10/30/2006 Symbol of hope:

An elementary school in the heart of North Philadelphia has grabbed the national spotlight for dramatically improving its test scores.

The initial jumps were so large the Philadelphia school district verified them by having some students retake the tests.

Over four years, the number of fifth graders scoring at the highest level - advanced - soared from 1.2 percent in math and reading to 42.1 percent in math and 29.8 percent in reading.
I double checked their results and overall they are amazing, but I did notice one thing.

In reading their results improved dramatically from a 12.2% proficiency rate in 2002 to a 72.5% in 2005, but all of the sudden in 2006 they dropped back down to a 47.5%. The same pattern is reflected in math scores.

I have noted this trend in several benchmark schools that I have looked up over my brief blogging career. Could it be that the initial rises in performance are a result of the "Hawthorne effect", and that once a system becomes established there is a leveling out of performance? Unfortunately the article doesn't mention the drop off at all. Perhaps its a statistical blip, maybe there were some changes not mentioned in the article, but its something that I might keep an eye out for in the future.

Update: I found a similar but not quite as dramatic drop off in scores at Amistad Academy of Achievement First.

2006 scores weren't available, but there was a drop off in 2005 scores from 2004 after several years of improvements.

Are there any studies that look at whether this is a common phenomenon?

Towson angles to draw males -

Towson angles to draw males -

The university's decision to tinker with its admission standards to help men comes amid growing national concern about declining enrollment of males, who make up only 42 percent of the U.S. college population. They are just 40 percent of Towson's student body.

The low grades/high scores formula allows the school to draw from a group that is mostly men, without actually using gender as a criterion. "We made a determination two years ago, because this was a group with a large number of males, that it would help us to continue to bring males into the university," said Deborah Leather, Towson's associate provost.
Ok... I should be against this, but I was one of those H.S. graudates that would of benefited from this.

I am no lawyer, but as long as the admission criteria is not based on race, sex, national origin, bla, bla, bla... I see no problem.

It is my understanding that some schools use a reverse policy and base their admissions on GPA and don't even consider SAT scores.

"Pee-Chee" Folder

So tonight I am watching VH1 Hits of the 80's count down and I had a total flashback to High School (Class of '88). Back then, before fuzzy math, new math, and new-new math everyone had "Pee-Chee" folders. My gf has no idea what I am talking about, but it was truly part of my schooling experience. Alas, a quick google told me that "Pee_Chee" folders are no longer being made. Too bad, I would love to get my hands on some.