• On the Bubble
    Sometimes, educators refer to some groups of students as bubble kids---those who have a performance that straddles the line between meeting or not meeting the standards. Other students may be identified as red kids (those who underperform). But what do these labels really mean? Should we use them? Are they beneficial or harmful? Have we simply modernized terms like bluebirds or dunces from bygone eras?
    In this story, we share data to provoke these (and other) conversations. What does it mean to experience school on the bubble?
  •  About the display
    Three sizes of disks (1", 2", and 3" diameter) represent the amount of change in student performance between 2015 and 2017 on the Smarter Balanced assessment in English language arts for our current sixth-grade students. Every student (351 total) is represented on the board. Disks were painted a color (red, yellow, green, or blue) to represent the 2017 performance level for students who increased their performance by 1 - 226 points. Some student performances are represented by black disks---these are performances that decreased by 1 - 101 points between 2015 and 2017. The number of disks in a stack represents how many years a student has spent at that level. This provides an idea of whether students are just progressing within the same zone. Finally, the specific position on the y-axis of the board relates to the 2017 score. The range was from 2200 - 2800, with a score of 2502 required to meet the standards. To learn more about the scale scores, please visit the OSPI web site.
    Student groups
    What are the characteristics of students in each group? What do students who typically perform below the standard have in common? What about those above the standards? What makes the most difference on the bubble? Use the charts below to check your predictions. You can use the buttons at the bottom of each slide to jump to a view of a different group.
    The vertical orange line shows the overall percentage of that population in the district. For example, only 12.9% of Tumwater students receive special services, but in grade 6, these students represent a disproportionate amount (52.9%) of those performing at level one.
    Ethics statement
    All data were collected by Tumwater School District staff on October 27, 2017. Data for both offline and online displays were retrieved from Homeroom, one of our student information systems. Students with one year or more of missing data were excluded from the display.
    Calculations and visuals were created using Microsoft Excel. The change in performance was determined by subtracting the 2015 score from the 2017 score in English language arts for each student. These numbers were standardized into a z-score by using the mean (71.8) and standard deviation (57.6) of the overall set.