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Tag Archives: designing charts and graphs

New Cut Scores for Michigan’s MEAP and MME

It’s official.  You have likely heard that the new cut scores were coming.  Well they’re here.

When the MDE sent a memo out this week reminding everyone that historical data with the new cut scores attached would be released on Novemember 3, 2011 – I jumped into action.

I’ve put together a few materials that should be useful to you as you get to know your new cut scores.

DOWNLOAD THE 14 PAGE PDF HERE.  And do let me know if there’s anything else you need.

 

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Content Card – Line Graphs, Elementary Level

This content card is for the elementary level.  The content card shows the parts of a line graph, ideas for comparing data, the definition of a line graph, and common words for describing the amounts in a graph.

Download this two-page content card for line graphs.

 

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Learning to Count

When teaching students to count, there are a couple of basic tools every teacher needs.  Here’s the great news:  These tools cost almost nothing and are very simple to reproduce and use.  DOWNLOAD MY HUNDREDS CHART and perhaps print one for each of your students.  DOWNLOAD THE NUMBER CARDS and make a number line and/or use the cards in a variety of other ways.

Corresponding Content Card – Counting 1, 2, 3.

 

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Setting Achievement Bars

With the end of the school year comes time for district and school staff to determine how well students have learned.  School Boards do this also.  If you want to measure student achievement at higher levels, one way is to look at how your state sets its achievement bar on the state tests your students take.  By law, the state tests must measure what it is the state determined that students will learn.  I know, I know – that is a novel concept.  But let me share with you what we’ve learned and how that impacts student achievement in your school, district, and state.

I’ll use an example from Michigan here.  Michigan gives its state test in the fall of each year.  One of the things the state determines is what constitutes proficiency for each test – in other words, how many questions a student must answer correctly in order for a student to be considered proficient.  In 7th grade, a student has to answer only 34% of the questions correct in order to be deemed proficient.  Do you think that’s a problem?  I certainly do.  If we have students who we report as proficient when they are performing well on only about one-third of the test, how are we preparing them for high school?  For college?  For work?

Look at the graph on the left.  The blue line on the graph shows the percentage of questions a student must answer correctly in order to be proficient in mathematics on the MEAP test for grades 3-8.  The bar is set lower than most would like.  (I have yet to talk with an educator in Michigan who thinks the bar is just right or too low.)  This can be an issue in terms of school improvement because we can have 90% of our students proficient, but if the bar is so low, what does that really mean the students know?  Are they really showing proficiency?

District staff, building-level staff, and school board members can step up to the plate here and raise the bar.  How do you do that?  In addition to keeping a check on the percentage of students who are proficient on the MEAP test by the state’s standards, you can raise the bar and add another measurement that reflects your own higher standards.  The red line represents a bar in which a district says that to show success on the MEAP test, students must answer 75% or more of the questions correct.

So consider raising the bar and expecting more from the students for whom you are responsible.

 

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Fix That Graph – Sources of Revenue

Here’s the scenario.  A local school district has just released its proposed budget for the upcoming two-year period.  Within the 157 page budget document are two pie charts – one for revenues and one for expenditures.  The graphic on the left is the actual pie chart for revenues.

Take a look at the graph and see what you think.  What has been done well?  What would you recommend tweaking?

Of course I have my suggestions - just click here to download my analysis for this pie chart.  The last page of this handout even shows an example of how the finished product might look in a budget document.

 

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Content Card – Bar Graph

This content card is designed for elementary school students.  If you like this one, just let me know and I’ll add to the content for middle and high school students.

Download the bar graph content card in pdf format.

 

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Fix That Graph – Grade Distribution in 8th Grade English

Today’s graph features data related to grade distributions for 8th grade English.  School improvement teams sometimes show grade distributions as a tool to show improvement in a content area.  Sometimes a community wants to see the distribution of grades to determine if there is grade inflation.  Sometimes college staff looks at distribution of grades for the same reason.  Now I am not saying that this data is the right data to use for grade inflation, I’m just noting that this is one way people use this kind of data. 

So let’s focus on the graph for grade distributions.  As you can likely tell, this graph was part of a presentation.  First of all, I’d like to clarify the term, histogram.  In a histogram, the bars touch one another.  In a bar graph, they do not – so this is really a bar graph.  But whatever you call it, the intent is to show the Grade Distribution in 8th Grade English. 

Here are a few quick things I want to note about this slide.

Based on the data, it looks as though this school/district used a grading scale in which:

A          91-100 points

B          81-90 points

C          71-80 points

D          51-60 points

F          0-50 points

Since it says on the slide that this data is used to monitor progress, we’d want to see percentages – and not just how many students.  Below is how I would present the data in for the distribution of grades in 8th grade English.

  1. Use a pie chart.  A pie chart is perfect for showing the proportions of things in relation to a whole.  In this case we can see what percentage of students earned each grade – and this percentage can be compared from one quarter to the next or one grade level to the next.
  2. Write a title that tells what the data shows.  Remember that a good title will tell exactly what the data shows.  In this case you can tell that the graph shows the percentage of students who earned each grade, that it’s 8th grade English, that it’s the second quarter of the school year, and you even know what school this data is from.
  3. Include the percentage with each grade.  You can see from the pie chart that forty-two percent (42%) of students earned a B.
  4. Use contrasting colors to for the labels.  When you design this in EXCEL, the default for the labels is black.  But a black font does not show well on darker colors, so I made the font white.  I also increased the size of the font and made it bold, and then centered the labels within each part of the pie.
  5. Include the source of the data.  One challenge we always have when working with data is comparing it from one year to the next.  It’s important to keep track of the source of the data – which specific dataset you used to create a chart or graph – so you compare the same data set from one year to the next.    For example, you could place the following within the chart or directly under it:

 Data Source:  Quarterly 2 Grade Report, Pleasantville Middle School, 2009-2010 School Year.  (This is the same report you would use for each Quarter for this and subsequent years – to allow you to compare similar data from one year to the next.)

In this case, just a few changes will make this graph easier to read and interpret – and that’s the purpose for using graphs and charts in the first place.

 

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