Academic Ends Policies (Other Measures)
[unmodified printout from aendsli3.html, May 8, 2000]

Because the research literature in K-12 education provides support for a number of indicia of probable, or actual, academic achievement other than the traditional, and intuitive, test scores and other comparable measures Jim Behle and I have been exploring the possibility of additional academic ends.

Some are measures that tend to correlate with academic achievement while in K-12 school.

Others recognize that the purposes of K-12 education go well beyond the academic achievement of teenagers; that the true measure of the success of a K-12 program is what happens to students after graduation, not before.

These have not only not yet been discussed by the Board, they have not yet even been drafted.

But the following is at least a beginning partial list.

In each instance it will usually be obvious whether the "end" for each would involve an increase, or decrease, over time.

Attendance. There is a correlation between attendance and academic achievement. By definition, schooling does not take place when students are not in school. Moreover, absence indicates that a school has failed to motivate a student to want to attend, or that a parent does not care enough to insist upon attendance, or both. Thus, a goal of increasing the percentage of enrolled students in attendance could be an academic "end."

Class size. Since there seems to be research support for the academic value of reduced class size K-3, and we are allocating resources to bring it about, the Board might wish to track, and establish an end of, reductions in the size of those classes.

College. A high proportion of our high school students end up attending two and four-year colleges. Thus, whether the Board declares it as an "end" or not, the District is, de facto, performing the role of a college prep institution -- at least for most of its students. Accordingly, it can be judged as such. (Of course, the Board will want measures of how well the District is doing in serving all of its students, not just the college bound.)

Advanced Placement. The end would be to increase (a) the number of advanced placement classes, and (b) the number of students enrolled, and (c) who pass the tests.

Core Program Participants. The research literature indicates that one of the best measures of probability of enrollment in, and successful completion of, a college program is participation in a core program of four years of English/language arts and three or more years each of mathematics, science and social science. An end could be to increase each year the percentage/number of students who do so.

Honors Classes. The end would be similar to that for Advanced Placement classes, above.

College Entrance Exams. There might be an end to increase ACT and SAT scores of students -- or simply to increase the numbers of students taking the tests.

Students Attending College. There might be an end of increasing the percentages/numbers of students who intend to, or preferably who actually do, attend two and four-year colleges.

College Grades. The Board might want to examine (to the extent available) the college GPAs of the District's graduates who attend college.

College Graduation Rates. The Board might consider relevant (a) the average number of years the District's graduates take to complete two and four-year programs, (b) the percentage/number of those entering college who graduate, and (c) the number who go on to graduate-level programs.

Dropouts. Dropouts represent the ultimate "attendance problem," the ultimate failure by a school to provide for its students. Because such students are no longer enrolled they are not counted among the absent. But it is often difficult to know when a student is no longer enrolled in school because they have dropped out, and are living on the streets here or elsewhere, and when they have simply moved to another school district where they are enrolled and fully participating.

Ninth Grade Enrollees Graduating. To avoid the problem of students who have simply disappeared, this end would require that a record be maintained on every entering ninth grader (plus students transferring into the school in higher grades), along with the current address of every one who left the school before graduating and what is believed to have been the reason for their leaving and the school where they continued their education. This would be comparable to other academic ends efforts of the Board to prevent students from "falling between the cracks." The "end" would be to increase the number of entering ninth graders who graduate.

Numbers of dropouts (grades 7-12).  This would be an alternative, or supplement, to the end above. It would simply be a record of the number of students characterized as "dropouts" by their high school administrators. It would not record those who leave for other reasons.

Graduation Rates. This would be an alternative, or supplement, to the "Ninth Grade Enrollees Graduating" end, above. Presumably it is the percentage (and/or number) of 12th graders in the fall who graduate in the spring.

Parental Involvement. We have yet to explore the range of options for encouraging parental involvement. But whenever that task is completed there may well be ends to come out of the discussion that are directly related to academic achievement.

Post-college achievement. Presumably a major purpose of all levels of education is preparation for life after school. It may be possible to come up with post-graduation ends that are useful measures of how well our K-12 program has prepared our graduates for their personal and professional adult lives. For example,

Preparation for democracy. One of the more common purposes of K-12 districts across America is preparing students for democratic participation. Ours is no exception. But how can this be measured? One way would be to (1) obtain the graduating seniors lists from the high schools for the years from five years ago to ten years ago. (2) Select a random group of students from each. (3) Obtain their addresses from the schools or (if they do not have them) from local directories -- looking for those who reside in Johnson County. (4) Compare the list of those who are local residents with the voter registration rolls. (5) Of those who are registered to vote see how often they have voted in past national and local elections. The end would then be to increase over time the percentage of our students who end up registering to vote and actually voting.