Thursday, September 26, 2013

Post Cards, Test Scores and Propaganda

When in college, I had an instructor that told the class that you could design a graph to say anything you wanted it to say.    The Lebanon School District mails out an oversized postcard periodically.   I checked with a few printers and they tell me these cards would cost approximately $3,000.00 per mailing. 

I've been collecting a stack of these cards since the district started mailing them.  Much of the information on these cards is misleading and designed to convince the taxpayers to vote for another levy.

What a waste of money!   There is so little information on these cards.  It would be so much more cost effective to send a piece of paper home with the children.   The local paper will print just about anything the administration gives to them.   Why not have them print this information free?    Or buy a nice ad in the paper.    I’m sure they would give the schools a good deal.    After all, most of the local paper is school news.  No big deal to just add another little tidbit of propaganda.  

The latest card (which I will call levy propaganda) has a few graphs on it.  The purpose of these graphs is to depict just how great Lebanon is performing academically.   The graphs list possible scores between 18 and 24.  In 2011 Lebanon’s average score was 22.8,  coincidentally in 2012 it was also  22.8 and 2013 it is reported at 23.4.

Using my instructors premise, these graphs portray the Lebanon City School District as an outstanding institute of learning.   What is the truth?

The “Message from Mark North’s” recent post card displays a maximum ACT score of “24.”  In reality the top score on the ACT test is “36.”  As you will note on the graph below the highest score of “36” is displayed.   I have listed some scores from various districts and states.  (The scores listed are for 2012 because that was the common information available.)

Other variables to consider would be the number of students that took the test, the percentage of the total number of students that could have taken the test, the possibility that “certain” students did not take the test (for example those that the staff thought would not perform well on the test or that did not plan to pursue a higher level of education.

The information that was given to me by the Lebanon City School District is that 75% took the test for the 2013 class.   In the state of Ohio 71% of the students took the test.   When you consider the state scores, you must take into consideration that number would include students from every school district in the state.

The ACT web site reports that race and ethnicity does factor into the test results.   Examples given were that blacks average 17, Hispanics 18.5, whites 22.4 and Asians 23.6.   As a result of these statistics, city school districts would have a much lower average than suburban areas where the percentage of minorities would be less.   The nationwide average score is 20.9.  Some states are now paying for the test in order to direct improvements and revisions to their curriculum.

In Colorado 100% took the test with an average score of 20.6, in Illinois 100% took the test with an average score of 20.9, in Kansas 81% took the test with the average score of 21.9, in Minnesota 74% took the test with an average score of 22.8, in Ohio 71% took the test with an average score of 21.8.  In Connecticut 27% took the test with an average score of 23.8.  In Wisconsin 71% took the test with an average of 22.1.  The International Academy in Michigan the students averaged 29.  In Springboro, Ohio the average was 24 with 84.2% taking the test.

According to the ACT site a score in the mid to low 20’s would be considered very average.   Many universities now require a 27 or higher score for admittance.  These statistics are listed on their various web sites.  

There are innumerable articles, books available with statistics evaluating the relationship between the money spent and the luxurious state of the school buildings.    Most of these statistics state that there is no relationship between these two factors and the quality.   Most state that the determining factors include the quality of the teacher and the leadership of the principal.  What does hurts learning is “tenure” and the inability of school districts to furlough their worst teachers.    Since superintendents were once teachers and thus union members, they tend to protect the union and its members.  After all, the union members do campaign for every levy.   Of course more money is for the benefit of all employees including the superintendent.  

Average ACT Scores - 2012








Int'l Academy 29






Lebanon  22.8

Connecticut 23.8

Minnesota 22.8

Ohio 21.8

Wisconsin 22.1



Springboro 24





75% Tested
71% took the test
84.2% Tested
71% Tested
27% Tested
Michigan H.S.
74% Tested
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1 comment:

  1. Great stuff! You are a treasure trove of information.