Friday, September 15th, 2017
Dayton Daily News FAIL #11 (See DDN Fail #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, and #10)

The Dayton Daily News published a story yesterday, “How did your school perform on the 2016–17 state report card?,” listing Miami Valley school districts’ scores and adding some commentary. Unfortunately the story is another #DDNFail.

One fail that’s really obvious is that their stupid table is not viewable without scrolling horizontally. Many of the column headings are long (e.g., “Performance Index Percent (out of 100)”), which makes the columns so wide that the table won’t fit on the screen. A few linebreaks (<br />) would fix that by spreading the headings over mutiple lines so that the columns could be narrow enough to fit.

But the DDN’s editorial fails in this article are what’s really worth pointing out.

The DDN claims that “Districts do not get an overall grade to sum up their performance. They get letter grades on six components of their performance, based on detailed data within each of those categories.” Really? It’s too bad that no one has ever found a way to correlate letter grades with numbers. Oh, wait! They did — it’s called grade point averages.

Copy the DDN table of scores into Excel, search and replace A to 4, B to 3, C to 2, D to 1 and F to 0, add some SUMs and AVERAGES, and voila! You have a overall grade for each district to sum up its performance. Here, take a look at this Excel workbook which shows overall scores for each district.

And that leads us to DDN’s major fail. They call out Trotwood and Jefferson Township for each having one “worst in state” score, but do they call out Dayton Public Schools for being the absolute worst school district of the 102 districts in the list of Miami Valley Districts? Nope, because the DDN thinks there’s no ”overall score” for districts.

A perfect district, scoring an A in each of the six categories, would have 24 total points. None of the Miami Valley districts were perfect, but one district scored 3.6 and two scored 3.5. Russia Local School district got 18 out of 20 points (they were not rated on K-3 Literacy) and thus a 3.6, and Oakwood City and Mason City both got 21 out of 24 points and thus each a 3.5.

And what did Dayton Public Schools get? Out of 24 possible points they got 2 points. They had two Ds and the rest Fs.

Dayton Public Schools just narrowly averted a strike and is in the midst of a heated election for its board, with only one incumbent running for re-election. And what is the DDN’s comment about Dayton? See bullet point number two, which briefly mentions, “Dayton scores mixed.”

That’s one way to spin it. Another way is that Dayton Public Schools ranked dead last of the districts in the Miami Valley with four Fs and two Ds. Four Fs and two Ds is “mixed” but barely. Do you lead with “mixed” or do you lead with “dead last”? We know what the DDN chose.

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