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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hammann Report: Gender Bias/Block Schedule/ Analysis/ WKCE

(Ed.note: This memo has been published so the public can see the ongoing disucssion of the School board on this issue. The data, and what it means, is under discussion. The full data files in excel format can be obtained from the Evansville School District. Stay tuned to the Evansville Observer.)

September 7, 2007

To: Heidi Carvin, Brian Cashore, Leslie Ferrell, Lou Havlik, Randy Keister, Vicki Lecy-Luebke, (remaining staff members of 2003 Academic Excellence Team), , Deb Arnold, Marilyn Brink, Bob Flaherty, Krista Jones, Marissa Morstad, Linda Rehfeldt, (non-discrimination self-evaluation report team), Dennis Hatfield, Jeff Herbers, Mike Larson, Art Phillips, Michael Pierick, Tina Rossmiller (Evansville School Board).

Cc: Butch Beedle, Sarah Champeau, Teresa Ellison, Deb Fritz, Jamie Gillespie, Kitty Verkuilen

From: Melissa Hammann

Subject: Supplemental Information for Gender Bias Report/Possible Block Schedule Contribution to this Phenomenon.


There was a lengthy discussion of the block schedule at the August 13th Board meeting as a follow-up to the consultant presentation in July. I asked whether our girls’ skyrocketing ACT performance could be attributed to the block schedule better matching a traditional female learning style of cooperation and interaction while inadvertently suppressing a traditional male learning style of competition, constant motion and hands-on activities. We discussed and disagreed at length and eventually agreed to place “Gender education issues” on our September agenda. To that end, please find another report specifically focusing on the WKCE and ACT trends in recent years, categorizing the data by gender.

Attached with the report, please find Excel spreadsheets with accompanying sets of charts. WKCE trend data and charts are found in the Excel file entitled WKCETRENDS; the ACT trend data and charts can be found in ACTTRENDS, which focuses only on Evansville vs. State Data. Finally, spreadsheets and linked trend charts for the ten districts in Wisconsin with enrollments between 1700 and 1900 are available in Excel files ACTREADING, ACTSCIENCE and ACTCOMPOSITE.
WKCE Trends 2002-2006 (WKCETRENDS)

The sex bias concern for the WKCE testing pertained more to the predominance of our girls’ losses in WKCE performance from grade 8 to grade 10. However, a review of the WKCE data verifies the concern that we are losing ground vs. the state on WKCE test results. In addition to the Raw Data spreadsheet, there are 20 charts in the Excel file WKCETRENDS tabbed with names such as WKCEBOYSGR8READ, WKCEGIRLSGR8READ, etc. Each chart compares one Evansville gender to the same state gender for each category tested (Reading, Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies) at either Grade 8 or Grade 10, covering the time frame from 2002 to 2006. The statistic being measured is the percentage of students scoring proficient plus advanced on the WKCE test. Trend lines have been included for both Evansville and statewide data.

Only three subjects showed both Evansville and State increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient plus advanced on the WKCE. Girls Grade 10 Reading showed a minimally perceptible increase in Evansville girls results with a slightly greater increase from the state girls. A steady increase in Grade 8 Boys math performance was also seen, with approximately equivalent slopes to the trend lines, indicating equivalent increases. A similar result was seen with the Girls Grade 10 Social Studies performance improvement, with less overall magnitude of improvement and at a slightly lower rate of improvement than the state girls.

Only two subjects showed a loss of proficiency in both Evansville and state students: Boys and Girls Grade 8 Language Arts. The Evansville students’ rates of decrease are much more precipitous than the decreases posted by the state students. These trend lines will eventually cross at these continued rates of decline, plunging the Evansville performances below the state performances.

The remaining 15 subjects show State students increasing proficiency over time and Evansville students decreasing proficiency over time. Five of these charts show minimal decreases or flat Evansville performance (Grade 10 Boys Reading, Grade 10 Boys Math, Grade 10 Girls Math, Grade 8 Girls Science (flat) and Grade 10 Boys Social Studies). Eight charts show very steady Evansville decreases in the face of perceptible to steady State increases in this statistic. Over time, at this pace, these trend lines will also cross given their opposite slope signs. Finally, the trend lines for two subjects have already crossed slopes, placing the Evansville performance below that of the state students: Grade 8 Girls Math and Grade 8 Boys Social Studies.

There is no sex bias point to these charts, just a clearer picture of the decrease in Evansville WKCE performance over time. Given the importance placed on these test scores in the federal NCLB Act, it’s important for us to address the issues and determine underlying causes to mitigate the decline in WKCE performance. It is curious, however, that of the three subjects that showed Evansville improvement over time, our girls posted two.

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