Over the past few weeks, the Sentinel has been documenting the performance of the public high schools on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metro from best to worst.
As a guide, The Sentinel uses the research done by the Kansas Policy Institute (KPI), which, in turn, uses state assessment data generated by the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP).
To determine which high school performs “best” or “worst” the Sentinel has adopted a fairly simple and workable formula: We add the percent of students judged college and career ready in English language arts (ELA) to the percent of students judged college and career ready in math to the percent of students deemed “low-income.”
On Saturday, the Sentinel published a list of the 10 Best schools on the Kansas side of the metro. Today, we publish the worst. We use “worst” as a shorthand for those schools performing furthest below expectations.
Low-income is usually the killer variable in judging school performance. Typically, but not always, the more low-income students, the lower the school’s score. Those schools that perform poorly despite a small percentage of low income students call attention to themselves in unflattering ways.
Counting down from the tenth “worst” to the first:
10. Blue Valley Southwest High 95 41 ELA, 49 Math, 5 Low-Income
9. Tonganoxie High 94 38 ELA, 26 Math, 30 Low-Income
8. Piper High 89 44 ELA, 26 Math, 19 Low-Income
7. Washington High (KCK) 88 5 ELA, 2 Math, 81 Low-Income
6. F.L. Schlagle (KCK) 87 2 ELA, 0 Math, 85 Low-Income
5. Louisburg High 86 41 ELA, 27 Math, 18 Low-Income
4. Lansing High 79 32 ELA, 24 Math, 23 Low-Income
3. Bonner Springs High 78 18 ELA, 13 Math, 47 Low-Income
1. Basehor-Linwood High 70 35 ELA, 19 Math, 16 Low-Income
1. Paola High 70 25 ELA, 17 Math, 28 Low-Income
Conclusions: Realistically, it is hard to imagine a worse learning environment than that at F.L. Schlagle High School in Kansas City, Kansas. When not a single student in the school is college and career ready in math, someone should be fired. That said, at Schlagle they do have an excuse–not a good one, but an excuse. Some 85 percent of the students come from low income homes.
At Basehor-Linwood High and Paola High educators have no such out. By a wide majority most students in both schools come from homes in which the parents make more than $50,000 a year. And yet in neither school are as many 20 percent of the students college and career ready in math.
Before the State Supreme Court authorizes another spending increase the justices need to ask some hard questions aboout why so many schools are doing so inarguably poor a job educating their students.