School Report Card: The Somber Situation for Allendale Education

I am a data nerd. As a Children’s Pastor, when I would present numbers and statistics, one of the other Children’s Ministry staff would invariably say, “He’s probably going to make a graph about this.”

(In her defense, she was partly right — I probably already had a graph about it. In my defense, a good visual makes a presentation much more palatable, like what Maurice’s BBQ sauce does to chopped pork.)

On the heels of Children and Poverty in Allendale, here are more statistics, this time about the school system in Allendale. The data is from only one of the 4 schools, and is about a year old, but it will give you a starting point to for understanding the current quality of the education system.

Standardized Testing Results

In standardized testing, the student’s results can be grouped into three categories: Exemplary, Met, Not Met. Below are the results for adding the percentage of students who achieved the Exemplary and Met levels. Therefore, the higher the number, the better.

For comparison, the results for the Allendale school will be in bold, the results for similar (according to poverty level, I think) will be in italics, and the statewide (South Carolina) results will be in regular type.

  • English / Language Arts (ELA):  44 / 65 / 77
  • Math:  37 / 57 / 71
  • Science:  22 / 44 / 62
  • Social Studies:  26 / 57 / 72
  • Writing:  34 / 59 / 71

In other words, only 22 – 44% (depending on the subject) of these students have met the minimum level on these standardized tests. No one (here or anywhere) is denying the fact that we are trailing behind our peers.

Some Other Statistics

Standardized test scores are not the end all determinant. They are symptoms of bigger issues. Here are some other interesting facts (Allendale results compared with similar schools and statewide results), along with my commentary:

  • Older than usual for grade:  1.5% / 0.8% / 0.4%.  I don’t know about the rest of the state, but the number in Allendale should probably be higher. We have a good bit of “social promotion,” i.e., students promoted to the next grade level based on age, not on comprehension of material.
  • Money spent per pupil:  $8900 / $8800 / $7500.  We can’t say that money isn’t being sent here from the state. Allendale receives $1400 more per student than the state average, and more resources are poured in from donors and charitable organizations. WE do need money (like anyone else), but we also have to evaluate how that money is being spent.
  • Student-to-Teacher ratio (core subjects):  15:1 / 17:1 / 19:1. We have significantly smaller class sizes than other schools in the state. So, like with funding, this has not been the core problem in Allendale.
  • Teachers with Advanced Degrees:  39% / 59% / 61%. There are some great and caring teachers here. But the truth is that compared with the rest of the state, we do not have top-level talent.
  • Teachers Returning:  80% / 82% / 87%.  This statistic is perplexing to me, since CERRA puts Allendale’s teacher turnover ratio at 25%. (And it was at 28% a couple of years ago.) It could be a fluctuation in yearly data, or with different ways to calculate teacher retention. Regardless, we’re below average.

What Now?

As much as I am a pessimist (or, ahem, a realist), I am not disheartened. At a recent school board meeting, administrative staff presented data that shows that the school system has been improving in the past few years. School leadership is honest in its recognition of the tremendous needs of students, and they have identified a few key areas that must be improved on, including:

  1. The quality of teachers and the administrative staff.
  2. The school environment.

I am excited about the opportunities I’ve had to be involved in the schools. I never would have thought that I’d be this passionate about a public school system. But I know that helping youth get a solid education is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty. You can read more about how we can Improve Our School Report Card.

And the local church must be involved. We, the body of Christ, must be the light to the world (Matthew 5:14), piercing the darkness. We must bring hope and life to those around us. And in our good deeds, we will bring glory and fame to the name of Jesus, trusting that He Can Redeem the Past.

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4 responses to “School Report Card: The Somber Situation for Allendale Education”

  1. Celena Daniels says :

    Joey, What an eye opening post! It is clear that it takes much more than just raising taxes and putting more money in these schools that struggle when there are deeper issues at hand. I commend you and Joanna for sacrificing daily for the mission God has put before you.

    It is so inspiring and encouraging to read your blog and keep up with what you all are doing! I love the data and blog entries…..hard to deny the evidence that Allendale is indeed in need of help! Thanks so much for your light online!

    I can just see you guys in action pouring out your crazy selves to these kids. Be encouraged because your hearts are HUGE and your wisdom is beyond your years. It has certainly inspired me to consider where my mission could be here in Whitefish MT.

    For now it is focusing on our little 7 week old baby girl, but there will be a time to involve her in ministry and teach her what being a Christ follower is all about.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      Thanks so much for your encouragement. We’re so glad to be on this adventure. We are learning so much, and are trusting in God to keep working through us. It can get so easy to get overwhelmed with EVERYTHING that needs to be done, but that’s not our responsibility. We’re called to just be faithful to exactly what God has for us — nothing more, nothing less.

      Excited for your baby. Yes, at 2 months of age (and longer), your main focus is her. But you just keep pursuing Jesus, and she’ll see what a dynamic faith is all about.

      Stay warm up there.

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