The Score Is Falling! The Score Is Falling!-Or Not
When it was announced that hundreds of students would transfer from the unaccredited school districts of Normandy and Riverview Gardens to higher-performing districts, receiving communities had a few concerns. One of these concerns was that transfer students would negatively affect their school’s standardized test scores.
Young families hunting for a house often use standardized test rankings as a tool to select a neighborhood. This is highly evident in the Lindbergh School District, where, aside from its relatively low tax rates and housing turnover, the district’s rising enrollment has been attributed to its top-ranking achievement record.
Data released from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) reveals the (receiving district MAP score) concerns were unfounded. In fact, receiving school districts saw little to no decrease in test scores in comparison to the previous year without transfer students. An analysis by St. Louis Public Radio shows that transfer students had no effect on the Annual Performance Report (APR) of many receiving districts.
Some districts did see a change in APR score, and this could be explained by a number of variables. For instance, the state itself saw a decline in scores overall. Also, standardized test scores are strongly correlated to the socio-economic makeup of a district. This may explain why Ferguson-Florissant, a low-income receiving district, saw the most decline—3.6 percentage points.
The transfer of 2,200 students did not cause the sky to fall—or scores for that matter. What it did was give students an educational opportunity. For the receiving district that has chosen not to accept transfer students, this should be a sign that it’s time to take those 350 children back.
Transfer students may not have made a difference on receiving districts’ APR scores, but the receiving districts certainly made a difference on transfer students.