Comparative School Performance

In the context of evaluating how Noblesville Schools is using money already provided to them, I decided that the Accountability Grade produced by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) was the broadest, most objective measure an interested citizen could easily obtain.  There is a somewhat lengthy explanation found in this file

https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/accountability/f-faq-20170914.pdf

IDOE evaluates the performance (accountability) every school in the state on an A, B, C, D or F rating scale based on 3 different groupings of measurements.  Individual school scores are then weighted within the school corporation to provide for an “average” grade for the school corporation.  For the purposes of this analysis, I converted the Letter Grade to a number:

A=4
B=3
C=2
D=1
F=0

arriving at a sort of modified “GPA” for a school corporation.  In order to evaluating the “how are we doing” aspect, I selected a number of similar school corporations (similar in size and/or geographic location and/or socio/economic/demographic characteristics).  For comparative purposes I also included a couple of corporations that are fairly dissimilar.  The chart below shows the results of that analysis for 2017.  “Oper $” is the arrived at by adding the total of the General Fund budget to any Operating Referendum budget amount.

Corporation “GPA” “Oper” $ per  Student Ref $ per Student Other $ per Student Students
Hamilton Heights     3.25 $6,533.85 $0.00 $5,043.53       2,334
Avon     3.33 $6,697.66 $0.00 $5,141.39       9,392
Brownsburg    4.00 $6,763.50 $0.00 $4,692.69       8,737
Pendleton    3.40 $6,967.02 $0.00 $2,893.66       4,481
Noblesville    3.60 $7,004.34 $667.15 $3,848.46    10,426
Southeastern    3.80 $7,114.89 $871.09 $4,080.77    21,367
Madison (Jefferson Co.)    2.33 $7,223.55 $0.00 $5,389.50       2,887
Carmel    3.87 $7,437.32 $1,130.72 $3,198.55    16,082
MSD Lawrence Twp    2.00 $7,437.90 $0.00 $3,844.52    15,936
Westfield   3.13 $7,681.16 $830.04 $4,854.54       7,590
MSD Washington Twp    2.09 $8,183.45 $738.45 $5,178.46    11,482
Sheridan    3.67 $8,344.34 $1,017.40 $6,233.19       1,036

As can be seen, here are a few facts from the table:

  • Of the six corporations that have had Operating Referendums since the tax cap was enacted, 5 are in Hamilton County.
  • There does not appear to be any correlation between Operating $ per pupil (General Funds + Operating Referendum Funds) and performance.  The top 4 in terms of lowest Operating Cost per pupil are all above a “3 Point” GPA and the highest cost schools in Hamilton County (Westfield and Sheridan) have similar GPAs.  Lawrence and Washington Township in Marion County and Madison of Jefferson County have appreciably lower grades for similar or higher operating cost per pupil.