Monday, August 26, 2013

The Business First Elementary School rankings are biased and wrong

First, off let me say this, I am not affiliated with Business first or a teacher or administrator at any school in the area.  However, after investigating this list especially the elementary school ratings, I observed a fatal flaw in their ranking system.  Quick review: Business First ranks the schools based on a formula that measures socioeconomic and test scores to find the best schools in a given area in Western NY.  The affluent school districts always score the highest, so clearly the system is not weighted correctly.  But, I have figured out a fatal flaw to their elementary school rankings.

Now follow me for a second, Business first, creates a socioeconomic rating based on a districts level of wealth.  They have a certain system for establishing the wealth for a district, and I have no issue with the formula.  They then take the socioeconomic status of a district and combine it with the test scores to generate a ranking for a given school.

The problem with the elementary school rankings is that every school in a district gets the same socioeconomic rank.  So, consequently in very diverse districts with multiple economy levels.  The wealthier elementary schools in that district have an inherent advantage in the factoring of the rankings. Most districts have more then one elementary school, and every elementary school is unique in its cross section of enrollment.  For example, the elementary schools that dominate the rankings in Business First is Penfield: Cobbles, Scribner and Harris Hill all rank in the top 5.  While Indian Landing the other elementary school is the district, ranks about 17.  Why does this occur? It is simple really, Indian Landing has a poorer clientele and enrollment of the other three elementary schools, but because Business First calculates for an average of the district, Indian Landing is unfairly penalized, while the other three schools are unfairly rewarded in the ranking system employed.  Essentially, the other three Penfield elementary schools score lower then they actually are on their economic scale, so when they combine this with their test scores, those three schools float to the top.  There are multiple examples of this in districts around Western NY.

You might say what is the big deal?  Clearly, you have never talked to a parent, teacher or principle of one of the elementary schools unfairly penalized.  In the grand scheme of things will this keep a child out of college, the answer is No.  But, you cannot publicize and promote a ranking system, when the ranking system you use, has such an obvious flaw.

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