Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bingo 1.1.10

Everybody loves Bingo. It has outplayed and outlasted other gaming trends and remains a favorite pastime for millions. Bingo is easy to learn. It’s familiar. It’s an equal opportunity game. You can play it if you’re poor, or rich. Its charm is in simplicity. You can even use it to teach arithmetic. (And we are all about teaching arithmetic…to the rich and the poor.)

Play a game with me. If you can count 1, 2, 3, 4, then you can play this game. Here’s the code: 1 is not good. 2 is still not good, but better. 3 is pretty good. 4 is best. The game is set in NC and all the players are 3rd-5th grade reading and math test-takers. The point of this game is take all the test-takers who score 1 or 2 on their reading and math tests, and up their reading and math skills. Simple, right? HARDLY…

When our mad spreadsheet statisticians got hold of a local school district’s evaluation of this game, the number of losers were far outweighing the winners. (Here is the link to the paper on their website: Their Paper). This evaluation of the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), designed to “help students reach proficiency as measured by End-of-Grade (EOG)” (p. 1) in literacy and mathematics.

(North Carolina has four achievement levels for reading and math. Students who score at Levels I or II are below grade level. Students who score III are at grade level, and those who score IV are above grade level. Students are considered “proficient” if they score III.)

Bingo gone bad…check out these mad stats:

  • “. . . 41.1% of those served showed below-grade-level scores on standard tests before service in literacy. In mathematics, 73.3% of students served had below-grade-level scores.”

  • …only 40% of students who were below grade level in either math or reading were actually served. And more Level IV students were served than Level I students.

  • One third (33.0%) of ALP students who were below grade level on their 2007 mathematics EOGs reached proficiency on their 2008 mathematics EOGs, compared to 42.1% of other non-proficient students who did not receive service.

  • As with reading, results were worse for Level III and IV students participating in ALP mathematics. Only 70% of them scored Level III or Level IV on their 2008 mathematics EOGs, compared to 94.9% of other Level III or Level IV students who did not receive service.

So in simple Bingo Lingo, if you were doing poorly in reading, this program had a slight chance of helping you improve more than had you not been in the program—but just barely. If you were reading at or above grade level, this program was likely a waste of time, and probably did you more harm than had you not been in the program. And if you were already doing math at or above grade level, this program was far more likely than your counterparts who did not participate to hurt your math skills and drag you down below your grade level.

You’d think these services would cost about as much as the average Bingo board, but this game is big buck$ across the state, with the above services totaling $9 million for one year for one district. That sounds more like a game of crap$. Who is sick of paying for and playing this game? Have we got some MAD SPREDSHEETS for you… check it out:

  • This program says it is designed for minority male students and has the goal of raising their achievement. Those who were already achieving just fine before being in the program didn't fare so well.
  • In this program, they didn't seem to be able to figure out who the program was for or what the goal was. Note that the big success rate is for kids who stayed in the program. Most kids dropped out of the program.
  • Here is another program where the goal is to bring the kids up to grade level proficiency, yet half the kids served were at or above grade level before service so they couldn't tell if the program achieved it's goal or not.
  • And another.