Baxendale: Higher income, better test scores

By Jonathan Delozier -

How much does average household income affect Wellington students’ test scores?

The numbers say the more money a district has, the better its Ohio Report Card results will be, McCormick Middle School principal Nathan Baxendale told the board of education in an Oct. 17 presentation.

Of all the districts in Lorain County, only Avon and Avon Lake managed to score B grades for achievement — and they happen to have median incomes of $81,149 and $79,503, which are by far the highest in the county.

The next highest was $65,843 in Keystone, where student test scores earned the district a C grade.

Wellington scored a D for achievement on the latest round of report cards. It has a median income of $54,880.

“There’s a significant jump between the county’s top median income districts and everyone else,” Baxendale said. “It’s not that their kids are smarter or our teachers don’t perform as well as their teachers. They just have more money coming in through different avenues like taxes. They’re able to use that money to bring in more resources as far as curriculum, more teachers, special education resources, and so on. It all boils down to how much resources you have to throw toward the state tests.”

According to Baxendale, districts across Ohio that scored an A for achievement have an average median income of $70,979. Looking down the grade scale, the median incomes decline in unison with districts earning B’s at $55,398, C’s at $42,253, D’s at $35,824, and F’s at $27,879.

The same correlation exists for the state report card’s gap closing measurement, which looks at how districts are helping along their most disadvantaged students. A-grade districts came in with a median income of $51,985, B’s at $47,856, C’s $43,967, D’s $41,223, and F’s $35,602.

More than half of Ohio’s 611 school districts received a D for achievement with the most of the remainder getting C’s. Thirteen managed an A, 53 got a B, and 19 received an F.

In regard to median income, districts shown most comparable to Wellington were Oberlin ($55,655), Sheffield ($56,073), and Elyria ($51,294). Oberlin and Elyria both received D’s for achievement but Sheffield managed a C.

“We know the state test is how we’re measured and that’s what we’re working to be successful with,” said Baxendale. “But at the same time, it’s also good to know about these other factors because we need to work to overcome them as well.”

The presentation showed aspects of the reports cards McCormick improved on this year, such as raising its performance index score from 66 percent to 71 percent and its gap closing score from zero to 43 percent.

At the end of his presentation, school board member Brett Murner reminded Baxendale that state testing isn’t going away despite anyone’s qualms with the grading criteria.

“I know they’re not going away, but they’re going to change again,” Baxendale said. “So we’ll just keep changing along with them. We’re collecting all of this information in order to hit where we need to hit in order to improve our grades.”

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jonathan Delozier