Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New Jersey has "Massive Achievement Gap" While New York's is Only "Large," via EEI Index

Education Cities and Great Schools have created a new tool that quantifies trends in achievement gaps in each state and in some cities. The tool is called the Education Equality Index, and it is described as “the first national comparative measure of the achievement gap between students from low-income families and their more advantaged peers at the school, city and state level.” The purpose of EEI is to “provide a foundation for research” so that states with large achievement gaps can model strategies from states that are successfully closing the learning gap between low-income and economically-advantaged youngsters. EEI was funded by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

For methodology, see here.

Results show that “In most major U.S. cities, the achievement gap between students from low-income families and their more advantaged peers stagnated or grew between 2011 and 2014... However, according to the EEI, in 90 percent of major U.S. cities, there are individual schools that are closing or have closed the achievement gap suggesting that greater equality is achievable."

Let’s look first at New Jersey. According to a press release,
 [S]tudents from low-income families across New Jersey are less likely to attend schools that put them on an equal playing field than those in neighboring New York and Pennsylvania. Despite frequent recognition for having one of the top public school systems in the nation, EEI data demonstrates that economically disadvantaged students in the Garden State have limited access to school that help them achieve at similar levels as their more advantaged peers. 
Key findings from the Education Equality Index include: 
New Jersey’s EEI score of 28.7 indicates that the state’s achievement gap is significantly larger than the nation’s and ranks the Garden State’s 22nd among the 35 states for which data is available.
Between 2011 and 2014, New Jersey’s achievement gap remained relatively unchanged, narrowing by just one percent.
Jersey City earns an EEI score of 34.2, indicating the city’s achievement gap is bigger than nearly 50 percent of major U.S. cities for which data is available. Positively, the gap shrunk by nine percent between 2011 and 2014.
Newark earns an EEI score of 32.2, indicating the city’s achievement gap is bigger than 55 percent of major U.S. cities for which data is available. Alarmingly, the gap grew by nine percent between 2011 and 2014.
Only three of 10 students from low-income families in Newark attend schools that are closing the achievement gap.
EEI also pulls out “top schools” that have relatively low achievement gaps. In Newark, those schools are two magnet schools (Science High and Technology High), five charter schools (Gray, Discovery, North Star, Maria L. Varisco-Rogers, and Robert Treat), one traditional (Branch Brook) and Essex County Vocational School.

In Jersey City, schools that were successfully closing the achievement gap were a two schools run not by the district but by Hudson County (County Prep and Explore 2000), Liberty High School (a joint venture between the district and Hudson County Community College), two charters (Golden Door and Soaring Heights), a magnet (Academy), and three traditional schools (Zampella, Wakeman,  and Number 5 Elementary School).

New Jersey's Education Equality Index was 28.7, New York's was 38.6. Any score below 37.9 is labeled as "massive achievement gap,". New York just barely eked out a placement in the category "large achievement gap." (See here for details.)

In New York State, the achievement gap grew slightly. Of the three cities studied – New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester --- Buffalo showed no change  while N.Y.C. and Rochester showed further widening between low-income student and higher-income students. The top schools in New York City – i.e., schools with “small or nonexistent achievement gaps that serve a student population where at least 51 percent of students are from low-income families as measured by the free or reduced price lunch (FRL) program” – were five Success Academy Charter Schools, Harvey Milk High School (designed for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students), and four traditional district schools: Yung Wing, Shuang Wen, Benjamin Altman, and Hernando De Soto

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