Archive for April 2013

The Voters and Districts Won

April 9, 2013

Congratulations to tonight’s seven winners in Districts 208 and 96, and thanks to all candidates.  It takes special determination to campaign.  Since in these candidates, that determination is based on a desire to serve others, the mere campaign was itself noble.  Seven will now hold office and continue their service.  To them, thank you in advance for all of your time and energy, and best of luck as you work on our behalf.  With you go our hopes and aspirations.  Please be bold as you pursue them.

Something of a Sum-up

April 8, 2013

We have come to the end of another campaign and I am struck by the words of another poster, “Respect is about more than money.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, all of the RB reform that people have pushed since 2006 derives from the observation.

RB in 2006 spent without controls, made promises it did not keep, was ruled by a group of cliques operating with the knowing approval of the board, and pushed kids into AP classes and AP tests to mask the above by getting meaningless ratings on one ranking.

Smart kids did well, but average kids fell into gaps between regular and AP classes. Resources were wasted. Curriculum was skewed. Integrity was sacrificed. RB’s actions disrespected students, parents, taxpayers and residents.

No surprise: Beneficiaries of the dysfunction have bayed loudly, deceptively and, as we see nearby [at riversideinfo.org, Landmark letter – Turnaround needed at RBHS, c.page 70] crassly, to impede reform.

It is exactly what they did two years ago – trying desperately then to convince voters to impose on themselves the largest local tax hike in history. More money, in their view, would solve all of RB’s problems.

Voters said, “No.” The resulting stringency enabled a reform board and administration to unearth the depths of RB’s overripe issues – in curriculum, construction, collective bargaining, finance and simple management.

With the next contract on the line, these issues are present in tomorrow’s vote. All of RB’s reform is right there, before the voters. We will see what they say, and we will learn from their choices. My sense is the voters know who in their board actions has respected them and their tax dollars, and they will reward those officeholders, and their running mate, accordingly.

Don’t forget to vote.

Salaries, Ratios and Results at RB

April 1, 2013

Much criticism of Riverside-Brookfield High School’s leadership relies on assertions of lost quality of academic achievement.  “These class size raises are hard to bear and really make education at RB worse…” is one quote from a poster.  But a straightforward review of official sources reveals that RB’s academic achievements were halting and discontinuous, particularly when the board has considered raises for members of the Riverside Brookfield Education Association, until the last four years, when progress has been measured and steady, even after “class size” grew.

For instance, no RB class ACT composite score between 2002 and 2008  equaled, let alone exceeded, the 2000-2001 composite score of 22.8 (2002 = 21.6; 2003, 21.7; 2004, 22; 2005, 22.4; 2006, 22.3; 2007, 22.5; and 2008, 22.5).

By 2007-2008, two of five scores (English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning and Composite) were higher than those of 2000-2001.  English and Reading both reached 23.3, from 2001 bases of 22.2 and 23.0, respectively.  But Math and Science Reasoning both fell, Math to 21.9 from 22.6, and Science Reasoning to 22.0 from 22.7.

In fact, of the 35 individual scores that followed 2001 (five scores per year for the seven-year period) only five exceeded their 2001 value.  Those were the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 English scores, and the 2008 Reading score.  Each of the 30 other scores were less than the 2001 result for their particular area.  That means all of the scores in Math, Science Reasoning, and Composite, and all but one Reading score, were below their respective 2001 outcome.

By 2008, the four-year upturn in English and the improved Reading score were not enough to pull the composite above that of the class of 2001.  What slight improvement RB’s Composite saw came almost exclusively from English results, until 2008.  Source: Table 9, “High School Profile Report,” page 7 in “Riverside Brookfield High School District 208 Testing Report, 2007-2008 School Year.”

To focus on the decision-making period that led to the three-year, ten-percent raises per year, so-called “catch-up contract,” which took effect on July 1, 2005, the 2003-2004 results, which were available in the run-up to signing the new contract, are particularly illuminating.

As RB’s board considered granting three years of ten percent raises in the spring of 2005, the 2004 results underperformed those of 2001 across the board.

English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning and Composite all fell from the 2001 levels.  English fell to 21.7 (2004) from 22.2 (2001), Math to 21.6 from 22.6, Reading to 22.4 from 23.0, Science Reasoning to 21.6 from 22.7 and Composite to 22, down from 22.8.

Similarly, the run-up to the current contract (July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2013) took place in view of the 2007 results.  English was in the third year of a rise, at 23.1 from 22.2 in 2001.  But it stood alone as an increasing value.  Math was 21.8, down from 22.6 in 2001, Reading, 22.4, down from 23.0, Science Reasoning 22.4, down from 22.7, and Composite was 22.5, still down from 22.8.  Source: Table 9, “High School Profile Report,” page 7 in “Riverside Brookfield High School District 208 Testing Report, 2007-2008 School Year.”

Throughout this period RB’s “Average Teacher Salary” grew to more than 151 percent of the state “Average Teacher Salary” in 2012, from more than 138 percent in 2001:

Year State average RB average $ Difference % difference
2001 $47,929 $66,186 $18,257 38.1
2002 49,702 68,342 18,640 37.5
2003 51,672 69,864 18,192 35.2
2004 54,446 70,538 16,092 29.56
2005 55,558 75,545 19,987 35.97
2006 56,685 76,490 19,805 34.94
2007 58,275 79,110 20,835 35.75
2008 60,871 83,745 22,874 37.58
2009 61,402 86,442 25,040 40.78
2010 63,296 90,120 26,824 42.38
2011 64,978 95,138 30,160 46.42
2012 66,614 101,014 34,400 51.64

Source:  Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois School Report Cards, Riverside Brookfield Twp HS, Riverside Brookfield Twp SD 208, 2001-2012, “Teacher/Administrator Salaries (Full-Time Equivalents)”

In the period of the latest contract ACT scores have risen consistently.  English rose to 23.7 (2012, the latest year for which data is available) from 23.5 (2009), Math to 23.7 from 22.4, Reading to 23.5 from 22.7, and Science to 23.2 from 22.5.  RB’s ACT Composite in 2012 was 23.6, up from 22.9 in 2009.

The student-teacher ratio increased to 23.2 in 2012 from 21.5 in 2009, or to 121 percent of the state ratio (19.2) from 112 percent of the 2009 state ratio (also 19.2).

The 2011 RB ratio was 21.3, meaning its rise to 23.3 in the 2011-2012 school year accompanied ACT score increases to 23.7 from 23.4 in English, to 23.4 from 23.2 in Math, to 23.5 from 22.9 in Reading, to 23.2 from 23.0 in Science and to 23.6 from 23.3 for the RB Composite.

Thus, as Average Teacher Salaries increased to 151.6 percent of the state average in 2012 from 141 percent in 2009, and student-teacher ratios increased to 121 percent of the state ratio from 112 percent, RB saw the Composite ACT rise three percent, less than a one percent increase in English, a 4.5% increase in Math, a 3.5% increase in Reading and a three percent increase in Science.

Because overall achievement – as indicated by the ACT scores — continued on its pre-existing course between 2009 and 2012, it is reasonable to conclude economies enacted after July 1, 2011 have not materially diminished attainments — at least as reflected by this data.

(None of this is to suggest either that correlation equals causation, or that descriptive results equal inferential trends.)