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Do Rockwood High Schools Excel in College Readiness?

After U.S. News & World Report staffers issued a national ranking of their version of the best high schools Tuesday, question marks were raised about why all of Rockwood School District's high schools didn't make it and what that means.

Rockwood School District parents still are trying to make sense of Tuesday's newly issued 2012 U.S. News & World Report national ranking of best schools. Do the answers lie in algebraic equations, literally?

When only one of the Rockwood's four high schools, Marquette, showed up on the list, Eureka-Wildwood Patch dug into data available regarding how U.S. News staffers approached crunching the data.

See related Patch news flash articles from early Tuesday afternoon:

Eureka-Wildwood Patch Facebook users shared both types of reactions to the news. One person who posts as Frau Huling said the results were believable because there were many other schools better than Rockwood's high schools. Rockwood parent posted her kids had great learning experiences in Rockwood, and she believed there are just too many variables in the U.S. News data to be able to have truly accurate nationwide rankings.

Nancy Elfrank Nethington stated that because the academic indicators were remarkably similar, it's strange the other Rockwood high schools aren't included in the ranking.

Nancy Petty Bengtson said it is one more indication all "rankings" should be taken with a tablespoon of salt! "They each measure differently, report differently, and the statistics differ if the entire school is tested. Sometimes one or two students who have severe learning challenges can change the entire picture. Each school is different for each student, and they shouldn't be lumped together."

One Rockwood parent's immediate reaction was major concern over how low the algebra-related scores were for Rockwood high schools in this listing, highlighting that 50 percent of the state average wasn't likely good enough for future math-related student successes.

remarked in the comments section of the : "I don't need a U.S. News Report & World Report to tell me whether Eureka High School is an excellent school or not, I already knew that it is!"

Pam Lieber remarked the ranking results are:  "NOT surprising! I truly believe one of the major problems Rockwood has is not facing some of their major issues head-on and the refusal to believe or admit they are are even having any issues."

noticed Eureka High had a higher college readiness than Marquette, and only 1/10 of a percent less on algebra and English, and a lower student ratio as well. "This tells me this ranking is bias and means absolutely nothing."

indicated she thought the point of the new criteria seems to be saying that high schools "need to educate ALL students. It seems that at times, it is very hard to be a 'regular' student in Rockwood. All students are not above average or SSD (Special School District)."

By approximately 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, staffers had accentuated portions of the data themselves. In this new ranking, all four of Rockwood’s high schools exceeded the minimum requirement for the college readiness index. Using Advanced Placement (AP) test data as the measurement for college readiness, schools had to achieve a score of at least 16.3, according to the update posted on Rockwood's website.

Rockwood’s high schools more than doubled this minimum college readiness index, they informed parents.   

Along with this measurement, schools were evaluated based on student performance on the Missouri Assessment Program’s (MAP) Algebra I and English II tests. All of Rockwood’s high schools scored above the state average in English II.

The One Difference?

Marquette scored above the state average in Algebra I, while Eureka, Lafayette and Rockwood Summit scored near the state average. So the proof does appear to be in mathematical equations, afterall. 

Lieber remarked in the second Patch article:  "Algebra I scores are dismal!! 50%....is absolutely pathetic! This should be concerning to many parents! No way to spin that....the scores are the scores! The 'wonderful' discovery math curriculum is to blame....Everyday and Connected math."

   College Readiness Algebra I Proficiency
English II Proficiency
Eureka High  47.5

2.6
near MO average

3.2
above MO average Lafayette High 42.1 2.6
near MO average 3.3
above MO average Marquette High 43.8 2.7
above MO average 3.3
above MO average
Rockwood Summit High 41.5 2.5
near MO average 3.0
above MO average

Based on this methodology, Marquette received a silver medal from U.S. News & World Report, and was ranked fifth in the state. 

“Our teachers and staff are committed to preparing students for success in high school and beyond, and we are proud of the work we have made in the area of college readiness,” said Rockwood Superintendent Bruce Borchers in the update. “While this ranking focuses on MAP test data, Rockwood’s Vision Scorecard provides a more comprehensive look at student performance. Factors such as student attendance, ACT scores, graduation rates and post-graduation plans are key objectives in our assessment of student performance.” 

"Like" Eureka-Wildwood Patch Facebook to join in conversations, such as these, by CLICKING HERE.

Pam Lieber May 09, 2012 at 06:24 PM
@Sue Harris-with all due respect, your comments scare me. Is it really "negative" that I want Rockwood to be the GREATEST and I want GREAT learning experiences for all students?I want the powers at be to acknowledge where we have weaknesses and improve upon those weaknesses! I am saddened that Rockwood,like you chose to ignore facts, test results,etc. We can't make improvements because we can't take the blinders off. This is hurting our students!Of COURSE we have some great things and great teachers in Rockwood but we also have some problems. How can we fix any of those problems unless we are willing to come out of the dark and admit first that we have areas we really need to be working on. It is through acknowledgment of weakness that greatness can be achieved. Can you honestly say that you are pleased and heart warmed that over 50% of our Rockwood students can't pass the Algebra I EOC test? We can talk about the GREAT things and the GREAT teachers all day long but are we improving the Algebra I EOC scores if that's ALL we talk about?Do you think it's helpful to keep POUNDING on the parents that care a lot about Rockwood and the students but might have to bring up something negative to try and make things better? I guess anyone who dares to say anything negative even though it is true and they want things to get better should just sit down and shut up!
Josh May 10, 2012 at 10:41 PM
I wish the Patch would have taken a closer look at the scores of the 4 Rockwood High Schools closer before posting a semi-negative article and leaving it an open question of whether the district did well or poorly....Any time a ranking system comes out you can take out both positive and negative and I'm willing to look at the positive and not go the route of the RS for RS group and look only at the negative. If you look at the link below and click on college preparedness the four high schools are in the top ten in the state. Rockwood is a very very large district and has one of the worst student to teacher ratios in the state yet it does seem to excel due to its great staff and administrators. I'm also not sure I understand the idea that the "regular" student is somehow being left out? If anything the "regular" student is getting a better education than they would receive in a majority of the schools in the state....
Josh May 10, 2012 at 10:43 PM
click on college readiness column to see how Rockwood stacks up http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/missouri/rankings
Layla Azmi Goushey May 11, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Eileen, I agree with your point about CCL. I think we need to have those projects incorporated into all classrooms. I have blogged about this before so I won't belabor the point. One other point I want to mention, though, is that if many of our students lack proficiency in Algebra or are not college ready, where are all of the parents of those students and what are they doing to support their child's learning? I commend those on both sides of the "positive-negative" debate because at least we are all here discussing the issues. I lean toward seeing the positives because there are many complexities to education and we can't address everything. We have a better situation at Rockwood than we might face in other school districts. I do agree that more can always be done. However, some of it is up to the students and their families to see to their success. Three questions: 1.)What are the external reasons that these students are not succeeding? 2.) What are the internal limitations that have prevented student success in Algebra?(Everyday Math comes to mind). 3.) Is Connective Math and Everyday Math the same program?
Layla Azmi Goushey May 11, 2012 at 12:32 PM
We can't address everything at once, I should say. Prioritizing challenges can help our students move forward.

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