Guilford Middle School Building Project

Bill Quirk's Handout for the November 25, 2002 Guilford  BOE Public Hearing

The Adams classroom capacity exceeds the replacement building's classroom capacity

What's the problem?  No pods and the number of employees who expect office space.

If Adams Becomes Town Property, is it a Major Gift or a Major Financial Burden?

Excerpts from the The Evidence on Class Size

  1. We have extensive experience with class size reduction and it has NOT worked. Between 1950 and 1995, pupil-teacher ratios fell by 35 percent. While we do not have information about student achievement for this entire period, the information that we have from 1970 for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) indicates that our 17-year-olds were performing roughly the same in 1996 as in 1970. There are some differences by subject area, but the overall picture is one of stagnant performance.
  2. With close to 300 separate estimates of the effect of class size, there is no reason to expect performance improvements from lowering class sizes. Moreover, because of the controversial nature of these conclusions, they have been carefully scrutinized and the policy conclusions remain unaffected.
  3. Considerable evidence shows that by far the largest differences in the impact of schools on student achievement relate to differences in the quality of teachers.
  4. The largest impediment to any constructive change in schools is that nobody in today’s schools has much of an incentive to improve student performance.

Excerpts from Effects of Building Change on Indicators of Student Academic Growth

  1. The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) is a statistical process  that was developed to provide unbiased estimates of the influences that school systems, schools, and teachers have on the academic gains of students. All students in Tennessee grades 2-8 are tested annually via the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP).
  2. TVAAS uses student scale scores derived from the norm-referenced component of  the TCAP as input into a statistical mixed model process to produce these  estimates (for a more thorough discussion see Sanders and Horn, 1993 in press).  Presently, the master database contains 1.7 million records merged longitudinally for all students who have been tested during the past four years.
  3. When the first TVAAS reports of school system effects on student academic growth were being developed in late 1992, it was observed that certain systems had a noticeable drop in gain for all subjects at certain grades. However, the point of retarded gains varied from system to system. After further examination at the system level, it was hypothesized that the entry point into the receiving school could be causing the retardation in growth.
  4. Subsequently, an analysis to test this hypothesis using all of the 1.7 million student records was initiated. Students' records are matched and merged over all systems in the state; thus, school change patters are known. School configurations across the state vary enormously representing nearly all possible combinations of grades 2-8.
  5. The mean gain for students who transfer to the lowest grade of their new school is measurably lower in all 25 subject-grade combinations than students who stayed in the same school.
  6. Severe retardation in gains was most pronounced in grades six and seven, the grades at which many school systems routinely transfer students en masse to middle school or  junior high.
  7. These findings indicate that there may be major disruption in a child's academic progress associated with school change. For many children, building change occurs when they leave primary school, intermediate school, and middle or junior high  school, so the opportunity for a collective impairment to their overall academic progress is most likely.
Copyright 2002 William G. Quirk, Ph.D.
The reader is invited to print and/or copy this paper.