independent school district
Research the profile and performance of the independent school district and then answer the questions below. The data needed to complete the assignment can be found in the following database:
• Read the questions closely before answering them. In particular, if the question asks you to write a paragraph, that means you need to write several sentences. A paragraph is not a single sentence. As you know a paragraphs have topic sentences, several sentences in the body that develop the topic sentence, and a concluding sentence that ties the paragraph together.
• Never, never, never copy and paste from a website. Use a database to do research that involves finding data, reporting it, and interpreting it. Copying and pasting from a website is the opposite of research. It is the opposite of critical thinking.
• Don’t include information relevant to question 4 when answering question 3. Don’t stray off topic.
• Use tables and charts in your report and sure to discuss them in the body of your report. Don’t just stick in a table and assume the reader will look at it and understand its relevance. Explain it to the reader.
• Use data to back up your conclusions. If you believe that LAMAR CONSOLIDATED school district is doing well, quote the data that support your conclusion.
• Interpret your data. Don’t just copy figures from the website and assume that the reader understands the difference in two sets of numbers. Explain what the data show. Point out critical differences and similarities. Discuss why the data are important.
• Don’t overwhelm the reader with a blizzard of figures. Use data to prove your points, but don’t supply so many data points that the reader is left overwhelmed with numbers. Discussions that being, X increased by 5.3 percent while Y declined by 4.8 percent are mind-numbingly boring.
• Be sure to use correct grammar and punctuation. Here are some common writing errors and websites that briefly explain correct usage:
o Differentiating between possessives and plurals: http://www.meredith.edu/grammar/plural.htm
o Using apostrophes correctly: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe
o Avoiding run-on sentences: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/runons.htm
o Avoiding sentence fragments: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/fragments.htm
o Using semicolons correctly: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon
o Matching pronouns with their antecedents: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/pronouns.htm
o Using commas correctly: http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp
• Be sure you understand how to read percentages correctly. For example, if the percentage of African Americans in the population increased over time from 10 percent to 20 percent, that is NOT a 10 percent increase. Here is a website that explains percentages: http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=399402§ion=4.2
Please answer each of the questions by number, treating the assignment as a series of short answer questions. Do not write a single, unified essay.
A good way to complete the project is to copy each question and then insert your answers after the questions in a colored type. For example, you may write your answers in blue or in green. (One color is sufficient. You don’t need to use a different color for each question.) You may attach maps and create tables to add to the report.
1. Where is the district located? [Note: Giving a single street address is not an adequate answer.]
2. How many students attend the district?
3. How many students attend public schools statewide? (The database allows you to view state data in addition to individual district data. You can find an overview of the state data on the homepage of the Tribune website.)
4. What is the district’s demographic profile? Write a paragraph in which you compare and contrast the racial/ethnic makeup of the district’s student body with the racial/ethnic makeup of public school students statewide.
5. Has the racial/ethnic make-up of the district changed appreciably since 2007? Is so, how has it changed? Which groups, if any, have increased proportionally; which, if any, have decreased? [Be careful to use percentages correctly. For example, if the percentage of white students falls from 40 percent to 35 percent, that is NOT a 5 percent decrease. Use the website linked above to learn how percentages work.] Please note that this question does not ask for a statewide comparison.
6. Some youngsters are at significant risk of dropping out of school or otherwise failing academically because of life circumstances. The following website identifies risk factors for dropping out or failing: http://www.misacor-usa.org/index.php/why-students-dropout-a-risk-factors. The Tribune database includes statistics showing the percentage of students with various risk factors for each district and for statewide. Write a paragraph in which you compare and contrast district students with students statewide in terms of academic risk factors. Based on the data, would you conclude that the district faces a relatively challenging academic environment or not compared with the risk environment statewide? (Do NOT include actual dropout rates in your analysis of this question.) Discuss.
7. How many high-school freshmen were enrolled in the district in 2007? How many seniors were enrolled in 2010? What percentage of district freshmen persisted until their senior year? (Do the actual math. If you do not know how to do this math, then study the material on percentages linked above.) Now, do the same calculation using statewide data. What percentage of 2007 freshmen statewide persisted to their senior year in 2010? Based on these data, does the district do a better or worse than average job of retaining its students through high school compared with the state average? Are the data for the district consistent with what you would expect considering the level of academic risk facing district students that you discussed in your answer to the last question? Explain.
8. How do you rate the academic performance of the district? Write a paragraph in which you compare and contrast the academic performance of district students with students statewide. Use at least two of the measures given on the website, discussing why each measure is important.
9. How do you rate the quality of the district’s faculty? Write a paragraph comparing the strength of district personnel with statewide averages using data found in the database. Be sure to identify the measures that you consider most appropriate for assessing the faculty quality. Do NOT use student performance data to address this question.
10. Assume that you are a parent considering purchasing a home in the district. Would you be comfortable having your children attend its schools? Write a paragraph giving your overall evaluation of the district based on the data found at the website.
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