Mercy! A Skunk!?: Traditional Schools versus Charter School Achievement

skunk

Mercy! Mercy! From Wikipedia:

A mercy rule, also well known by the slightly less polite term slaughter rule (or, less commonly, knockout rule and skunk rule), brings a sports event to an early end when one team has a very large and presumably insurmountable lead over the other team. It is called the mercy rule because it spares the losing team the humiliation of suffering a more formal loss, and denies the winning team the satisfaction thereof, and prevents running up the score, a generally discouraged practice in which the opponent continues to score beyond the point when the game has become out of hand. The mercy rule is most common in North America and primarily in North American sports such as baseball or softball, where there is no game clock and play could theoretically continue forever, although it is also used in sports such as hockey and American football. It is very rare in competitive sports beyond the high school level.

What kind of lead do you have to have call on the mercy rule?

In Little League Baseball and Softball, rules call for the game to end if the winning team is ahead by 10 runs after four innings (3½ innings if the home team is ahead).

In NCAA and NAIA college baseball, the game will end if a team is ahead by at least 10 runs after seven innings in a scheduled 9-inning game. Most NCAA conferences only apply the rule on the final day of a series for travel reasons or during conference tournaments in order to allow the next game to start. The rule is not allowed for the NCAA Division I tournament, where all games must be nine innings.

In NCAA softball, the rule is invoked if one team is ahead by at least eight runs after five innings and, unlike with college baseball, applies in the NCAA tournament as well. In American high school softball, most states use a mercy rule of 10 in five innings. (In either case, if the home team is ahead by the requisite number of runs, the game will end after the top half of the inning.)

Most state high school associations (where games are seven innings) have rules where a baseball game ends after the winning team has built a 10-run lead and at least five innings have been played.

Ever wonder how charters stack up to traditional public schools statewide on the STAAR, Texas’ state mandated assessment? Might we need a mercy rule? I will first conduct a descriptive comparison of the 2013 STAAR scale score means for reading and math for ALL Texas schools reporting results in various demographic categories. I compare the means for all schools statewide (charters versus non-charters). Here is what I found. (I do also have the STAAR scale scores for 3-8 and EOC. I will calculate and post that data at a future date)

Descriptive Comparison of Means: 2013 STAAR Average Scale Scores

Charter

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

 Reading — All No

3976

1421.61

52.064

.826

Yes

206

1398.65

60.339

4.204

 Reading — Latina/o No

3708

1407.59

48.164

.791

Yes

162

1388.51

54.312

4.267

 Reading — African American No

1903

1392.33

54.482

1.249

Yes

114

1395.63

66.815

6.258

 Reading — White No

2789

1460.92

49.675

.941

Yes

80

1458.29

55.554

6.211

 Reading — ELL No

2554

1378.90

52.465

1.038

Yes

104

1359.88

53.724

5.268

 Reading — Special Ed No

1434

1363.82

67.228

1.775

Yes

19

1312.00

67.829

15.561

 Reading — At-Risk No

3749

1370.11

45.237

.739

Yes

159

1362.11

57.970

4.597

 Mathematics — All No

3978

1460.36

62.907

.997

Yes

206

1412.66

76.437

5.326

 Mathematics — Latina/o No

3714

1450.81

57.896

.950

Yes

161

1407.39

67.113

5.289

 Mathematics — African American No

1904

1409.00

63.091

1.446

Yes

114

1394.45

83.360

7.807

 Mathematics — White No

2793

1493.35

64.284

1.216

Yes

81

1461.36

71.523

7.947

 Mathematics — ELL No

2524

1450.39

64.794

1.290

Yes

92

1400.38

69.030

7.197

 Mathematics — Special Ed No

1646

1392.40

75.657

1.865

Yes

20

1308.00

53.078

11.869

 Mathematics — At-Risk No

3737

1417.26

58.186

.952

Yes

155

1393.25

73.794

5.927

Traditional public schools outscored charters across demographic groups 13-1 in 2013. Mercy!! The lone bright spot for charters was for African Americans on the STAAR reading (More on that later).

The next question is: Are the differences in mean scale scores statistically significant? I conducted t-tests.

T-Test Comparison of Means: 2013 STAAR Average Scale Scores

F

Sig.

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean Difference

 Reading — All

6.778

.009

6.122

4180

.000

22.967

 Reading — Latina/o

1.172

.279

4.908

3868

.000

19.079

 Reading — African American

6.440

.011

-.619

2015

.536

-3.297

 Reading — White

1.804

.179

.466

2867

.642

2.632

 Reading — ELL

.018

.895

3.619

2656

.000

19.014

 Reading — Special Ed

.091

.763

3.337

1451

.001

51.816

 Reading — At-Risk

16.986

.000

2.156

3906

.031

7.997

 Mathematics — All

10.190

.001

10.492

4182

.000

47.708

 Mathematics — Latina/o

5.696

.017

9.250

3873

.000

43.414

 Mathematics — African American

9.019

.003

2.344

2016

.019

14.556

 Mathematics — White

3.079

.079

4.400

2872

.000

31.987

 Mathematics — ELL

.919

.338

7.255

2614

.000

50.008

 Mathematics — Special Ed

5.004

.025

4.973

1664

.000

84.399

 Mathematics — At-Risk

19.134

.000

4.975

3890

.000

24.011

On the 3rd grade STAAR, the mean differences (non-charters means are larger than charter means) are significant for 12 of the 14 groups examined. The formerly single bright spot for charters, African American scores on the Reading STAAR, turned out to not be statistically significant.

Again. Mercy rule applies.

Disclosure: As I have mentioned previously, I was an instructor at Aspire’s East Palo Alto charter and I currently sit on the board of the UT-Austin charter school. This insider view on charters has inspired research that shows that not all is well in the direction of the choice movement.

Are there excellent charters? Of course. For example, The University of Texas Elementary School Charter outperforms the average scales scores for the state for charters (11 of 11) and non-charters (8 of 11).

University of Texas Charter School 2013 STAAR Scale Scores

Mean

Outperforms TX Non-Charters

Outperforms TX Charters

 Reading — All

1431.00

Y

Y

 Reading — Latina/o

1395.00

N

Y

 Reading — African American

1473.00

Y

Y

 Reading — White

1497.00

Y

Y

 Reading — ELL

1404.00

Y

Y

 Reading — At-Risk

1407.00

Y

Y

 Mathematics — All

1458.00

N

Y

 Mathematics — Latina/o

1421.00

N

Y

 Mathematics — African American

1498.00

Y

Y

 Mathematics — White

1502.00

Y

Y

 Mathematics — At-Risk

1423.00

Y

Y

But on average, across the entire state of Texas, charters did not outperform our traditional public schools on the 3rd grade STAAR in 2013. As previously discussed, in future posts I will take a look at 8th grade STAAR results and the EOC Algebra I and English I Reading.

It’s a Skunk! :) (Well, almost)

For all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts on charters click here.

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Categories: Charter Schools

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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3 Comments on “Mercy! A Skunk!?: Traditional Schools versus Charter School Achievement”

  1. Anonymous
    September 10, 2013 at 1:38 am #

    It’s unfortunate that business men are looking at public education as a source of public money to make themselves rich.
    They aren’t satisfied with the military budget, the transportation budget, the housing funds, …
    Education funds traditionally have stayed under the control of public state officials and local school boards. Education was considered sacred. No more. Charter blood suckers are using the mantra of “failing schools” to gain access to a ‘new’ source of public funds. They tap into our students’ piggybank in the name of providing a ‘better’ education, but in fact the charter administrators pay themselves exorbitant salaries and give themselves lots of perks while research shows the kids are not getting a higher quality education.
    Charter school administrators are purchasing property, building and furnishing schools with public and philanthropic contributions. They are creating a network of campuses with taxpayer dollars that don’t belong to taxpayers. They equity they are utilizing to build their private empires belongs to their own personal organizations not governed or controlled by a publicly elected board.
    I call a foul on charter school owners!

  2. John Young
    September 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Reblogged this on Transparent Christina.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “Diversity is Hard”: Will Charter Schools In Your Locale Choose Equity? | Cloaking Inequity - November 11, 2013

    […] Mercy! A Skunk!?: Traditional Schools versus Charter School Achievement […]

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