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Letter: Data-driven analysis of schools is flawed

Data-driven analysis of schools is flawed

An Aug. 30 News article reported on Buffalo School Superintendent Kriner Cash’s statistic that only 1 percent of the ninth-grade class of 2005-2006 earned a college degree within six years of high school graduation, and on some disputations of that statistic. Cash’s statistic and those disputations of it are flawed for several reasons.

First, the statistic applies only to the baccalaureate degree. Not every student pursues that goal. If Cash truly wants a measure of success for the Buffalo School District, that measure must have as its base level the student’s entry into the school system, not just high school. And it must include measures of success for students pursuing outcomes that do not require a bachelor’s degree.

Next, the ninth-grade class entering in the fall of 2005 became the graduating class of 2009, not 2010, as the article and the disputations state. Disputations will only be informative when non-anecdotal data pertaining to the class of 2009 are used. When that becomes known, we will learn more about the validity of an advanced Regents diploma as a measure of college readiness in the Buffalo School District.

Last, those disputations are based on a group of select high school students and, as such, do not address the districtwide statistic cited by Cash. Also, those anecdotes only describe a midpoint in the high-school-freshman-to-bachelor’s-degree pipeline. Cash’s data-driven analysis describes the outcome of that pipeline, not just a potentially irrelevant midpoint.

Charles Belair

North Tonawanda