The True Status of the Floodwood School, Secondary Level
Marvin Pirila, Northland Watch
April 8, 2018
I read The Floodwood Forum’s article, “FHS grad rates top state, county averages”, by co-owner Jake Benson with some disdain. Grad rates without context are irrelevant. What good is graduating the highest percentage in the state when you haven’t prepared them properly for higher education.
According to Great Schools, a non-profit monitor of school performances, the Floodwood Secondary has failed to properly prepare its students for higher level education. All figures and assessments are from the last known scores, 2016.
Great Schools reports that Floodwood’s secondary has a reading proficiency of 29% compared to the state average of 58%. In math, they scored a 21% compare to the state average of 54%. Finally, in science they averaged 26% compared to 56%. Their assessment, “Very concerning: Test scores at this school fall far below the state average. This suggests that students at this school are likely not performing at grade level.” The fact is that the secondary scores are less than one-half of the state average, so the significance of graduation rates is highly diminished.
They also reported that Floodwood has a high school graduation rate of 95% versus a state average of 82%. Floodwood had an average ACT score of 17, whereas the state is 21, and an average AP course participation of 7%, versus the state average of 17%. The assessment by Great Schools, “A worrisome sign: This school is below the state average in key measures of college and career readiness. (Remember: high graduation rates don't mean much if students are graduating without the coursework and test scores they need to succeed.)” Note: Advanced Placement classes are rigorous classes with a final exam. The percentage of students taking AP exams may reflect whether the school culture is focused on college.
Great Schools ranked the Floodwood Secondary a 2/10 for student progress. This rating measures how much students at this school improved from one year to the next, compared to students with similar proficiency levels at other schools in the state.
Their assessment, “Very concerning: Students at this school are making far less academic progress given where they were last year, compared to similar students in the state. Very low progress with low test scores means students are starting at a low point and falling even farther behind their peers.”
In its rating of equity review, which measures whether this school if offering opportunity for all its students, or leaving some kids behind, Floodwood gets a 2/10.
As for class sizes, Floodwood has a ratio of 10 students per teacher, whereas the state average is 15:1. The percentage of teachers with three or more years’ experience is 74% versus a state average of 89%, and 92% of full time teachers who are certified versus a state average of 100.
Researchers have found that gains in achievement generally occur when class size is reduced to fewer than 20 students. Floodwood, by this definition, has one-half of a small class size.
“…Because there are so many variables in the average classroom — the quality of the teacher, the home environment of the students, the quality of the curriculum, the leadership of the school — it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about student achievement based on class size alone. In other words, strategies effective in one setting may not be equally effective in another. Nevertheless, studies over a period of years have pointed to a number of trends as a result of lowering class size:
-Gains associated with small classes generally appear when the class size is reduced to less than 20 students.
-Gains associated with small classes are stronger for the early grades.
-Gains from class size reduction in the early grades continue for students in the upper grades. Students are less likely to be retained, more likely to stay in school and more likely to earn better grades.
Education researchers suspect that class size reduction in the early grades helps students achieve because there is a greater opportunity for individual interaction between student and teacher in a small class. Teachers generally have better morale in a small class, too, and are less likely to feel overwhelmed by having a variety of students with different backgrounds and achievement levels. As a result, they are more likely to provide a supportive environment.
…In the early grades, students are just beginning to learn about the rules of the classroom, and they are figuring out if they can cope with the expectations of education. If they have more opportunity to interact with their teacher, they are more apt to feel like they can cope.
This theory would also explain why lowering class size in the upper grades may not have the same effect on achievement. Students in the upper grades, who may not have had the benefits of a small class in the early years, have already formed their habits, good and bad, for coping with their classroom environment. Simply reducing the class size at this level may not be enough to change their ways.” Source: Great Schools
So, why do the papers glorify the schools and avoid the true status of the schools? Simply, small schools are a significant portion of their news, but more importantly their income via advertisements and mandated public notices. In small towns particularly, the school board members may retaliate and select another newspaper for its notices. Regardless of the consequences, the newspaper is beholden to printing the factual status of the school, highlighting both its both its high and low points.
Parents must get involved, at home and in the school, and make sure their son or daughter is getting the education they need to be successful in life. The victims are the students that are ill prepared for life after high school.
On a positive note, the elementary ranked 6/10 for student progress from 2015 to 2016. This is a good sign and hopefully a trend that will continue.