Thursday, August 08, 2013

Rio's 2013 Phyz students are best ever

Rio's 2006 Phyz students held the top spot for six years. They scored as 72% Advanced or Proficient in Physics. With the STAR program's End Of Course (EOC) California Standards Tests (CSTs) winding down, this year's classes rose to the challenge. They will go down as Rio's best physics students ever, as measured by the state of California.

The physics students of 2006 had edged out those from 2001 by  single percentage point.

The physics students of 2013 eclipsed 2006 with a stunning 77%!

Forty-one percent performed at the Advanced level; 36% came in as Proficient. Seventeen percent were rated Basic, 2% Below Basic, and 3% Far Below Basic. (Due to rounding, this does not add to 100%.)

I'll update this post with graphics and more analysis eventually. For now, I'm going to enjoy the buzz.

And congratulate Rio Phyz 2013 as our best physics students ever!

Click here to see if this takes you to schoolwide results.

UPDATE: As promised, here is a breakdown and some longitudinal context for the 2013 data.

We begin with the most detailed breakdown: the number of students at each performance level. Performance levels are Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic, and Far Below Basic.

Rio Americano/Baird Student Performance, 2008-2013

This analysis leaves something to be desired. There's too much data to see larger, more important trends. A more telling chart compares "good" to "bad". That is, the numbers of proficient (or better) students to the number of basic (or below) students. This chart captures the relative proportions and the overall sample sizes from year to year, and is therefor the most useful chart for analysis.

Rio Americano ADV+PRO vs. BAS+BB+FBB, 2008-2013

Boiling it down too far yields a simple "horse race" result: what percent of the school's test-takers were either advanced or proficient. You lose sample size data here, so things can be somewhat misleading.

Rio Americano %ADV+PRO, 2008-2013

If this chart makes it appear as if 2012 in an anomaly, that's because it was. Rio did not have AP Physics in 2012. We will not have it in 2014, either. But EOC CSTs appear to have run their course, so no worries.

Rio's Physics CST proficiency rate of 77% stands as the highest mark among all the EOC tests. No other CST administered at the school had better results.

Districtwide, our 77% rate places us third among our nine comprehensive high schools. My hat is (again) doffed to Bella Vista and Mira Loma for their physics awesomeness.

Can too much emphasis be placed on the proficiency rate? Absolutely. An arguably better metric is the proficiency number: how many students scored as proficient or better. Rio's biology proficiency rate is always at or near the top for the school. While the physics rate of 77% is better the biology rate of 63%,  biology's proficiency number (63% of 521, which is 328) far outshadows physics' proficiency number (77% of 87, which is 67).

Still though, as a school, we end the Physics CST era on the highest note we've ever played.


Anonymous said...

I once attended a "Physics Open House" at Rio Americano at which high school physics students sat at tables, each with a classic physic demonstration or two in front of them. I was amazed at how little the students were able to respond to questions about what was going on in the demonstrations. They seemed to have no idea what the demonstrations were supposed to show, or didn't have the verbal or cognitive skills to explain the underlying concepts. But they sure can score high on the California physics STAR test. I walked away confirmed that standardized tests measure the lowest level of cognitive skills such as recall and vocabulary skills and the scores do not translate into an assessment of the more valuable, higher skills of analysis and synthesis. There's is no stronger argument for
the abolition of standardized testing than a few minutes spent talking shop with a Rio Americano physics student.

Dean Baird said...

Hey there, Anonymous!

Thanks for keeping up with The Blog of Phyz and wasting no time in sharing your tale of disappointment at the good news that was posted.

Logic dictates that your isolated, subjective anecdote commands greater respect than objective, coursewide longitudinal data collected for more than a decade.

Said no one ever.

Our annual ExploratoRio has been a great outreach project that allows our students to become explainers. I spend time with each of the exhibitors prior to the event. They must be able to answer *my* questions about the underlying principles. And this comes after their own research on the exhibit and building the apparatus.

ExploratoRio plays an important role in Rio's school-community interaction, and is heavily cited in accreditation documentation.

Hundreds upon hundreds of elementary students visit each year. Their wide eyes, dropped jaws, letters of thanks, and subsequent enrollment in Rio Physics tell a tale contrary to your experience.

If I had to pick, I would rather we win their approval than yours.

Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to have taught the sons and daughters of many CSUS Physics faculty. They reported being impressed with the students' knowledge evident when they visited ExploratoRio.

Perhaps you confused ExploratoRio with what you might expect to find at a traditional science fair. And that would be a mistake on your part.

I fear you will not be satisfied with the physics knowledge of "kids these days" compared to what you might have known when you were in your first physics class at the tender age of 16, regardless of standards or assessment. If anything, the new NGSS *reduces* emphasis on detailed content knowledge.

So I'll apologize on not prepping ExploratoRio exhibitors up to your demanding standards. But I must also acknowledge that you are the first (and only) individual ever to express such a disappointment.

Julia said...

I, too, have attended a few ExploratoRio with my children and had quite a different experience. The students clearly were able to explain what they were working on and how their particular table worked. Additionally, they have always been polite to my little ones (and even were this year)and tried to get them involved with what they were doing. Perhaps Anonymous is merely being a troll or attended a different high school open house.