Monday, May 12, 2014

Segregation? Deciding to Leave Town? Or Not Satisfied with the District? Disaggregated Data Tells A More Nuanced Story in Hoboken

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seg·re·ga·tion noun \ˌse-gri-ˈgā-shən\ the separation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group by enforced or voluntary residence in a restricted area, by barriers to social intercourse, by separate educational facilities, or by other discriminatory means

Recently, issues of intentional and unintentional segregation have been raised in the Hoboken School District. For instance, Board member Ruth McAllister compared the current segregation effects in Hoboken with that of Cape Town, South Africa at the May 6, 2014 Board of Education meeting (see 2:28:00mins). A few weeks ago the Board President referenced "white flight" occurring in the Hoboken public schools...and there have been other unfortunate descriptions. The issues are certainly complex but essentially boil down to some district leaders claiming charter schools having a segregative impact of the Hoboken Public Schools. 

One of the key assertions is that there is a large disparity between the demographics of the charter schools and that of the traditional public schools. Various numbers are referenced. In general, there appears to be some consensus that the Hoboken School District population is 70% low income and about 30% non-low income and that the charter schools are much less low income and more non-low income. 

The problem is that this data is not disaggregated by grade level. When we look at the disaggregated data a much different picture emerges and a possible different explanation emerges as well. One reliable source of disaggregated data is the annual Application for State School Aid Report which is also known as the ASSA Report or the "October 15th Report" since all data in the report is based on October 15th enrollment data for that school district. 

For instance, when we look at the 2010 ASSA Report for the Hoboken School District we see only 31% low income students in Kindergarten. In 1st grade there were 36% low income students and in the 2nd grade there was still under 40% of the district was low income. In fact, it was not until the 5th grade where the percentage of low income students exceeded non-low income students (see chart). As the grades advance, an interesting phenomena develops-- we notice the enrollment by grade level decreases as we reach the higher grades and the percentage of non-low income students decrease as well (see ASSA Report). 
ASSA Report 2010- Hoboken School District
Is this segregation? Or is the district losing non-low income (middle class) students for other reasons? Perhaps due to relocation of parents? Perhaps due to other educational opportunities for the children? Perhaps due to the Board and the Superintendent not meeting the educational needs and expectations of the non-low income families and those families deciding to seek other opportunities? 

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This is clear-- the Kindergarten grade of the Hoboken School District was made up of almost 70% non-low income students in 2010-11. Parents ARE choosing to send their children to the traditional public schools. But, the disaggregated data indicates that this percentage is almost flip-floped by 12th grade when only 31% of the grade is non-low income and 69% low income students. 

Before claims of segregation continue and the ugly, negative connotations such a term implies, it might be advisable to examine some of the data a little more closely and examine not why are non-low income parents not enrolling in the Hoboken Public Schools (because they are)....but why are parents taking their children and leaving the district? 

Monitor, Analyze, Correct.....

This data is not disaggregated

This is...

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