Monday, November 17, 2008

Why Statistics Matter to School Districts

The McKibben Report. What is it? Why does it matter?

McKibben Demographic Research [see ] is a part of the edublob servicing the needs of public school systems, in this case estimating the school population that may reside within particular boundaries. These numbers, used for planning purposes, project whether schools in 10 or 20 years will be crowded or empty. Sometime in 2007, the Charleston County School Board authorized a report on the population of District 20 (the downtown schools). So far, the district has refused to disclose how much it paid McKibben for that service.

The looming recommendations for school "redesign" and closings depend on the projections in that report. But how accurate is it? Downtown residents have been considerably annoyed at what they perceive to be ill-treatment concerning its dissemination. A copy of the report given to the District 20 Constituent Board in February 2008 was missing two thirds of its pages!

When McKibben met with the D20 Board in September 2008, he was insulted that his conclusions were challenged, even though he (and the district) "made [the report] virtually useless by its lack of a cover letter, client instructions, supporting data and maps. . . [and] Though he was asked to present supporting documentation, he didn't." As one "stakeholder" has pointed out, "Without creditable documentation, Dr. McKibben’s assertions are unsupportable and should not be used as part of the school reorganization plan."

Yet, that is exactly what is happening. No supporting documentation.

Just for fun, let's turn to the experience of the Fairfax County School Board, found easily on the Web. [See
Fairfax County Public Schools Enrollment Proj ection Task Force.] Fairfax also used McKibben for planning purposes. Although the district used his findings, the final report of the Citizens Task Force noted the following shortcomings:
Appendix E-Shortcomings in Dr. McKibben's Final Report
The contract with McKibben stipulated the items listed below from Sections5 .2 and 5.3 of the RFP. The Task Force carefully considered the SchoolBoard's stated requirements in its review of the final deliverable [sic]. Some of these requirements were not provided in the final deliverable; these are annotated below. McKibben did discuss several of these issues in his meetings with the Task Force. If McKibben had the opportunity to meet with the School Board, after final report submission, many of these items may have been addressed at that time. The Task Force is not suggesting that McKibben's recommendations would change by adding this information to the final report; . . . . "

I won't bore you with the requirements--just the annotations.
  • He certainly analyzed the current methodology but did not document his analysis in the final report.
  • This information was not provided in the final report.
  • This information was not provided in the final report.
  • The case analyses were completed but not documented in the final report.
  • This information was not provided in the final report.
  • Ditto.
  • Ditto.
  • Ditto.
Getting bored? Here's the clincher:
"The Task Force would also like to advise the School Board that this report is essentially identical to the ones he submitted to Kershaw County Schools (South Carolina) in August 2005 and West Noble Schools (Indiana) in February 2006."
Say what?

Perhaps we can surmise what annoyed McKibben when he was asked about the documentation he gave the district--and why the district hasn't provided documentation to the constituent board.

There isn't any.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As I've stated before, "We're not worthy. We're not worthy." But, thank God you think we are.
Way to go, Babbie.