Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Grant High School winner at state 'We the People' Constitution competition

It is the kind of story that typically gets attention only from the Oregonian. I am not sure why, but that is another story. But maybe it is because the Oregonian does a  decent (not always great)  job in its coverage. [Grant High School team wins state 'We the People' Constitution tournament].

A competition on knowledge of the US Constitution sounds a bit esoteric. [High School Congressional Hearings]. But it is clearly some indication of education prowess. It not necessarily 'egghead' competition, that is, one doesn't have to be a genius to participate, nor is it some 'bonehead' competition.

It is easy to surmise though that these constitutional students are more likely than not to succeed in life, and the school deserves credit for offering them opportunities to succeed.

Grant High and Lincoln High do well in these competitions. Historically Lincoln has done better, but Grant is the serious challenger. Lincoln has won the national competition, now it is Grant's opportunity.

It is not surprising to look at test scores, and other academic indicia, and determine that both schools are  good schools - the ones where anyone would feel comfortable to send their children. Both schools provide the opportunity for students to excel.

I don't have, or couldn't find, a historical academic snapshot of either school except that found in Wikipedia. But looking at the Oregonian schools database and that of Great Schools, one might guess that Grant will academically match or exceed Lincoln in the near future.

There is little difference between the two schools as far as teaching experience and education, class size, money spent per student, etc.  One thing is quite clear though - class size doesn't make a difference.
Depending on the database - student to teacher ration is either 25:1 or 22:1. 19:1 is the state average. Class size advocates would say 19 is way to large, but class size often proves to be a red herring.

It is interesting too that as compared to Lincoln,  Grant appears to have a higher proportion of low income parents given the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. And Grant has a higher proportion of white to non-white students. And, depending again on the data source, at Grant the percentage of whites is either 64 or 66, and at Lincoln it is either 81% or 75%.

Looking at this limited data - it might be easy to conclude that race and parental income make a difference. But, I suspect that without more it would be an error to draw any definitive conclusion based upon race or income stats.

The two schools are in fact not that much different. Thus, without more the statistical differences are just that. There would be no reason for any parent to not choose one or the other school. In fact it might be difficult to choose between them.

Look at the advance placement exams at Grant and Lincoln. Grant leads in number and quality. It is unclear whether Grant's advance placement exam program is recent or not. But it is surely an indication of a not on;y a good school but one that is expected to match, or better, Lincoln's performance date.

Education is about opportunities. The city and state cannot do better than provide the opportunity to learn - the rest falls on the students and parents. One can lead a horse to water, but . . . .

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