Monday, July 10, 2006

Gracie Porter's scores

Anyone can go to the State of Tennessee's Department of Education website and look at the scores for local schools. They've changed the format over time so it's a bit difficult to compare information over the ten years the information is available. What is readily available are the scores for Gracie Porter's principalship at Alex Green Elementary School from 2001 to 2003

I've graphed those scores for your review. If this performance is good enough--vote for Gracie Porter. If not--maybe what we need is a real fresh face that will actually require better from our administrators. But I suspect that if a downward trend was good enough for Ms. Porter for her own school--she probably thinks it's good enough for the rest of Nashville and won't hold her colleagues to any higher a standard. That should not be. We can do better for these children. We MUST do better.

And because I know my scanner isn't the best I'll post the actual scores here:

Language Arts:
2001 47
2002 47
2003 47

2001 46
2002 45
2003 45

2001 45
2002 46
2003 46

Social Studies:
2001 45
2002 44
2003 43

2001 41
2002 40
2003 37


Anonymous said...

Nice to know we have an early riser workng to improve our schools! While these scores certainly say a lot about Mrs. Porter's performance, I'd like to see the value added scores for her school, if these are available. I also think it would be highly relevant to see by teacher scores, and what she has done to promote the strategies of the successful teachers and correct the poor performances.(While directly addressing your point on Mrs. Porter, I think these same types of quetions should be asked in evaluating ALL teachers and principals)

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize she was at Alex Green. I remember the school name from an article highlighted at Bob Krumm's site earlier this year:

I did a little looking back then to see why A.G. Elem. would be so interested in some charter school kids minding their own business:

Looks like they could use a few more kids with good scores.

Doesn't that status beginning in 2005 mean they haven't met AYP....ever? It would account for at least since 2001.

The TVAAS public site is inoperable.
Value Added scores are partially listed on the report card archives:

2001- Reading-F, Language -F, Math - C, Science - F, Social Studies - F.

2002- Reading (score not indicated - even the earlier 'F' for 2001), Language - F, Math - C, Science - F, Social Studies - F.

What those letter grades mean:

2003- Link sends you to inoperable TVAAS public site.

2004 - Stopped reporting value-added scores.

Anonymous said...

Please post the most recent standardized test scores for your children. Or if they don't take any because they are homeschooled, any other evidence that shows that you are a more competent educator than Mrs. Porter will be sufficient.

Anonymous said...

How convenient that you left out the lower scores that followed Mrs. Porter's tenure. Or that you didn't mention that 91% of the children at Alex Green are economically disadvantaged, which may not be an excuse for low performance, but certainly can be a significant hinderance.

For anyone who is interested in a less self-serving picture, go to this link:

When you get there, select Davidson County, then go to the bottom of the System Report and select Alex Green from the individual school list.

And by the way Ms. Brooks, where are your solutions? Seven weeks on the board and you have yet to propose a single reform. Surely there must be something that YOU can do better than all of those other people whose performances you've criticized.

Kay Brooks said...

I didn't include the 2004 scores because I wasn't sure that it was actually Ms. Porter that was responsible for the even larger drop in scores.

Ms. Porter's resume submitted to the Council with her nominating papers show that she was the principal of Alex Green from 2001-2004. However, the State's report card for Alex Green for that year shows Dr. Sheila Woodruff as being the principal.

But I'll be glad to share with you those scores.


Reading/Language 40
Math 40
Social Studies 38
Science 36

I don't know if the scores were Ms. Porter's responsibility, if the principal following her is responsible or if there was some other major issue that created the drop.

I will not accept that these children are poor and so unable to learn. WE, the adults and professional educators, need to change the system to meet their need. Talk to KIPP--they have a clue.

Anonymous said...

Stanford 9th ed. Test date 04/06

Total Reading: Scaled Score 655, National percentile rank 94%, Grade equivalent 5.9

Total Mathematics: Scaled Score 618, National percentile rank 88%, Grade equivalent 4.5

Language: Scaled Score 678, National percentile rank 99%, Grade equiv. 10.5

Spelling: Scaled Score 612, National percentile rank 77%, Grade equiv. 4.2

Environment: Scaled Score 603, National percentile rank 76%, Grade equiv. 4.0

Listening: Scaled Score 657, National percentile rank 93%, Grade equiv. 6.5

Complete Battery: National percentile rank 90%, Grade Equiv: 5.8

Local tax funds required: $0

State tax funds required: $0

Federal tax funds required: $0

Savings to the local/state/fed tax revenue: ~$7000/year

Price paid (after-tax income) to voluntarily compare our child via a nationally norm-referenced exam: $60 + 2 days of instructional time.

According to most Democrats, our household per-capita income puts us below the poverty level - yet they also tell me I am part of the wealthiest 1% since I received a tax cut - so I am not sure if my child is economically disadvantaged or not.

Our lunches are not labeled as reduced-price or "free", because there is no such thing as a "free" lunch.

By the way, the test scores are by an 8-year old enrolled in second grade (yes, for the first time). They are not a "genius" or "TAG" kid, just hard-working. I think about any 8-year old can accomplish these results. To say only 10% can is foolishness in my mind. Honestly, the scores don't mean that much to me. I know what my child is studying and has accomplished and where I want them to be academically. Truth is, the national "norm" usually isn't it.

Anonymous said...

I don't accept that poor children are unable to learn either--I wouldn't have spent the last 5 years teaching in a low-income school if I believed otherwise. I do accept that many poor children (particularly those coming from multi-generational poverty as many of the children in Metro schools do) face more obstacles in the learning process than those raised in middle and upper class backgrounds. These challenges can include, but aren't limited to--lack of school supplies, limited exposure to educational experiences (zoos, museums, etc), unsafe neighborhoods, unstable family structures, and even smaller vocabularies than their wealthier counterparts when they enter school. Does this mean they can't learn? Absolutely not, but it does mean that high poverty schools face much greater obstacles in educating their clientele. I agree that KIPP does an excellent job with its children, but since this is about test scores, shouldn't you wait to see how they did before you call them successful? Furthermore, isn't it a bit unfair to compare a charter school which gets to operate under its own set of rules to a zone school which operates under the standards set by you guys on the board?

You also failed to address any of my other points. So to repeat:

1. What are your children's TCAP scores and what gains have they shown?

2. What specific reforms would you make within the Metro school system that fit within the legal/fiscal limits set by the state and federal governments?

You have run on the platform of being different from the rest--if that is so, I challenge you to show why the good citizens of District 5 should elect you and not to spend your time trying to show why they shouldn't elect your opponent.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Brooks, you're both frightened and frightening.

Your representation of statistics reflects a sorely inadequate understanding of reform curves and instructional influence. But why should we expect a more thorough knowledge base from someone who has only a high school degree? For that matter, why should we trust someone who didn't bother to invest in her own education to be able to protect the educational opportunities of our children?

That's right- we shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

This rock-throwing really means a lot coming from those too cowardly to post their identities.


I would think a teacher in touch with the system would know that homeschoolers do not take the TCAP exams in every grade - just like they don't take the $7k every year from their fellow man. Maybe we could create a 45% passing grade, like the gateway exams, so we can look good. So, just pretend Kay took the bait and get on with the point if you have one.

Since Kay should wait until she sees KIPP's scores to declare them successful, shouldn't you have to do the same? Or is it that "excellent job" doesn't equate with good test scores? If that is the case, why are homeschool children's scores on the same tests a homeschool instructor's performance indicator for you?


Please enlighten us all with your statistic prowess. I gave the link that the "F" is really anything below an 84% score. In the TVAAS world, you can make it 84% of whatever you want. All of the so-called performance indicator statistics have come directly from the state's report card that the parents are supposed to swallow as determining if their child is in a "good school". Please explain what is misunderstood about the reported four-year downward trend in said rating system for A.G. and how the administrator of the school for the majority of the downward trend protected educational opportunities of the students.

Anonymous said...

"So, just pretend Kay took the bait and get on with the point if you have one."

My point was for Ms. Brooks to show positive proof that she is a better educator than Mrs. Porter. Test scores would prove that, unless you can think of some other equally acceptable measure.

"Since Kay should wait until she sees KIPP's scores to declare them successful, shouldn't you have to do the same? Or is it that 'excellent job' doesn't equate with good test scores? If that is the case, why are homeschool children's scores on the same tests a homeschool instructor's performance indicator for you?"

KIPP creates an excellent environment for students and certainly does much to promote success--I find this to be excellent. However, until the scores come in, how can we know if what they have done is truly successful?

Ms. Brooks, not I, raised the issue of test scores in this post as a measure of her opponent's success. Since she is an educator, then she should be able to produce evidence that she can produce better results. Thus far, her blog and her public comments have only demonstrated that she possesses the ability to criticize Mrs. Porter.

Anonymous said...

This is the problem that most people have with the "educrats"! You guys argue over labels and criterion but miss the big picture. Who cares who takes what test when our kids can't read! Instead of arguing over labels and minutia, ask yourself one thing: Are our schools better now than they were twenty years ago? I look at a 40% drop out rate and say "NO!" I look at kids working jobs that can't make change without a computer telling them the numbers and say "NO!" I look at kids that have a minimal vocabulary and can't conjugate a verb and say "NO!" I look at Metro Police Officers STANDING WATCH in the schools halls and say "NO!" So where do we go from here? It's really your choice. Do we try an outsider that wants to implement some changes, or do we go with a career educator that has willingly been complicit in the failure of our school system? You decide for yourself!

Anonymous said...

"I find this to be excellent. However, until the scores come in, how can we know if what they have done is truly successful?"

So then, "excellence" can exist without "true success"? Will that thinking be afforded to Kay's students' scoring?

I am guessing that theorem #2 is:

"excellence" + $$$$$ = closer to true success

This is the most often used rationale by the public system when explaining poor test results/dropout rates, etc. "What we are doing is really excellent - if only we had sufficient funds to carry it through." You mentioned low pay in an earlier post. Do you see additional funds as the path to 'true success'? Full disclosure: Keep in mind that I operate on less than 10% of what MNPS spends per student per year and could send two students to private school or could homeschool and fully fund a private college education with the funding an MNPS student gets over 13 years.

"Since she is an educator, then she should be able to produce evidence.."

Now, we're gettin' somewhere. This is totally contradictory to the ideals espoused by the teacher's unions. I assume you must not be a member. I reiterate that the state has continually told the unwashed public that achievement testing is THE measure of academic achievement . The state tests every year from Grade 3 on (with K-2 optional). This is the only performance measure we are given by the state in report form - our report card if you will. Sure, there are self-described "non-academic" reports such as attendance and skin color, but the instructional staff doesn't come into play there. We dumb taxpayers are also aware that there is a "non-public" portion of evidence on the TVAAS site that is inaccessible. We pay for that evidence to be collected, consolidated and maintained on a publically-funded website - but we can't look at it. I'm sure it's "for the children", but if so, why can't we find out about our children? So what evidence has been provided? If the standardized test scores are valid evidence of teacher performance, A.G. Elem. doesn't look so good. Assuming Kay is also guilty until proven innocent is an interesting concept. To suggest that only those with proven track records in instruction are fit to serve as a school board member is nothing more than sheer cronyism - which would make me wonder about your union membership again. I understand the beef with the indirect measure of standardized test performance used as a yard stick for instruction. So, seriously, what should be used to gauge teacher performance?

BTW, for Anon to ridicule the high school diploma, which is the pinnacle of academic achievement for the educational system in question, is an interesting display of self-deprecation.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Holcombe,

"You mentioned low pay in an earlier post. Do you see additional funds as the path to 'true success'?"

I'm afraid you're mistaken--I have not mentioned low pay in any of my previous posts nor will I.

. . .

"Assuming Kay is also guilty until proven innocent is an interesting concept. To suggest that only those with proven track records in instruction are fit to serve as a school board member is nothing more than sheer cronyism . . ."

Again you misread me. I am no more a supporter of Mrs. Porter than I am of Ms. Brooks. I simply wish to know how Ms. Brooks is a better candidate than Mrs. Porter, whether this comes in the form of test scores, reform proposals, or any other relevant evidence to show that she is a superior candidate. Even a newcomer to the board should be able to demonstrate some evidence that she has something to bring to the table. Simply stating that the system is broken is about as insightful as stating that the sky is blue. Virtually every person in this city (educators included) realizes that Metro needs to do a better job of educating its children--What I would like to see is a leader who actually has ideas about how to fix it and not pointless criticism of her opponent. To that end, I offer the following questions for Ms. Brooks:

1. What specific budget changes should be made?

2. What programs should be cut, modified, or added?

Anonymous said...


You said you taught in a low-income school- I now understand your meaning- a school of students from predominantly low-income families.

Since I now see you're on an objective mission and rating candidates - you have the choice of Kay "the critic" and "business as usual" Porter. I can only trust you have questioned Ms. Porter's 4 years of administration at A.G. with the same vigor you have questioned Kay's seven weeks with no reform initiatives.

I too see the lack of specifics at her web site - just the typical 'nurturing environment', 'safe schools', 'more technology' and of course 'more resources' buzz words. Kind of like presidential candidates wishing for a "stronger America" or "better jobs". Although it doesn't look like you can ask questions there - so, best of luck.

Kay Brooks said...

The website went up just after I was appointed to the board and so was purposefully generic. It hasn't morphed into a campaign site yet--but it should. It's been on my "To Do" list--I'll move it up a couple of places. :-)

Anonymous said...

To clarify, I was referring to Porter's campaign page.

I see yours at least as informing the concerned community as to what the current status is academically - and pointing out mindless endorsements of opponents who really haven't stated what changes they propose.