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Five Questions to Ask: Demographics & Diversity

  1. How do local demographic trends compare to state or national data?Compare school levels of subject proficiency on state tests to the school’s NAEP scores to see if there are disparities.If the school’s scores on state tests exceed those for NAEP, there are at least two possibilities: The school is excelling, or the cut-scores denoting proficiency on state tests might be too easy to reach or not rigorous enough.

  2. Keep in mind the quirks of statistics.If a school goes down in overall performance on tests, was there a change in the demographics?

    Likewise, if there was a sudden bump in performance, were certain demographic groups that tend to perform worse counseled out of the school? And even if minority groups’ scores improve over time, overall school scores can go down if that minority group also goes up as a percentage of the student body.

  3. While out of school factors contribute to roughly two-thirds of a student’s overall school performance, summer and expanded learning initiatives, and afterschool programs have been found to lift student performance significantly. Are such programs are available through the school or an accredited education group in your region?

  4. How do the test scores and the overall academic performance for boys and girls in the school district compare? How have these scores changed significantly over time, and—if so—why?

  5. In colleges and universities, what are the enrollment trends behind the graduation rates? Does the school offer a student financial aid package that is generous one year but pared down dramatically the next? Are minorities exiting the school because they are more likely to commute to school than live on campus, which tends to cost more but also tends to produce higher graduation rates? How does the the demographic make-up of incoming freshman compare to that of graduating seniors?.