Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Enrollment Numbers for 2014: What do they mean?

The Press-Citizen is reporting that enrollment numbers for the ICCSD have been released. I've not seen the district's report on those numbers, but I do have last's year's projection (here) and the projection from two years ago (here).

I'm still processing what the numbers mean, but here are some preliminary thoughts:

First, the initial projections from two years ago are closer to what we actually have compared to last year's projection. The totals seem to align relatively well with the moderate projection from two years ago.

Second, the difference between what actually occurred and what was projected was primarily because a number of schools saw a decline in total enrollment from the 2012-2013 school year till now. The projections from two years ago only projected one of our schools (Kirkwood) to have a slightly declining enrollment. Interestingly, it had some of the most explosive growth of the two-year period.

Third, I think it is probably more helpful to compare the projected numbers from two years ago to the present numbers rather than the numbers from last year to the numbers this year. Otherwise, you could have had explosive growth last year (like we had at Kirkwood) that isn't properly accounted for in the decline.

Fourth, it is interesting to see which schools are meeting or exceeding the rather high projected growth compared to those that did not see much growth.

UPDATE: As as a result of some careful inquiries, I discovered that I made a mistake in my spreadsheet calculations. I had originally intended to "curve" the projection based on the overall decline. However, I curved the result the wrong way, and a reader pointed that out to me. I have since decided that it is somewhat misleading to curve the data, and revised the data. The percentage change (positive or negative) is calculated with the following equation: [1 - (the projected enrollment from the Spring 2013 Dejong Richter report / Actual enrollment figures from 2014-2015 school year)]. One of the wonderful benefits of presenting information publicly is that mistakes can be caught. I appreciate that greatly, and please let me know if I make a mistake about in judgment, values, or data!


















For my money, I'd say that being within 2.5% of the projection is pretty accurate, and I'd call anything in that range "about right."

A change greater than 2.5% but less than 10% seems significant.

A change greater than 10% seems rather dramatic.

With those percentages in mind, we had 6 elementary schools that were projected about right, and West and Tate Highs were projected about right.

Only 5 elementary schools saw a significant or dramatic increase over their projections: Twain (the only dramatic increase, very dramatic!), and Borlaug, Kirkwood, Van Allen, and Wickham. Borlaug, Van Allen, and Wickham occur on top of pretty large projected growth.

However, lest someone think that the growth in North Liberty and north Coralville is greatly out of step with the projections, you can see that it is not:










The remaining 8 elementary schools, and the 3 junior highs saw a significant or dramatic decrease with Hoover, Lincoln, Lucas, and Mann (all dramatic by my categorization) showing the greatest percentage declines.

My evaluation of the information:

What are the likely reasons why that might be?

Could Hoover be declining because of its pending closure, or is it because of SINA changes (or perhaps both)? Might the prospect of redistricting have had an impact on Lincoln and Coralville Central? Are escalating FRL rates having an effect at Mann and Lucas respectively? Is the soon-to-be-completed Alexander Elementary School driving growth in what is currently in the Twain area? Or are the Twain, Wood, and Kirkwood areas just the only place where housing is available for low-income families?

If these figures are reflective of trends rather than a one-year aberration, should we rethink the locations of certain expansions in the Facilities Master Plan? Do Longfellow and Mann need expansions in addition to their renovations (that is, they should definitely be renovated with building updates and AC, but must we add seats at those schools?)?

It still seems as if the north Coralville and North Liberty areas are growing about as expected. Penn was the only school in that area that wasn't "about right" and considering the entire area collectively, they are about what was projected two years ago.

I will need to hear more about the assumptions made in the budget blueprint last year to evaluate how much these figures, if they are a trend, will have an effect on the budget.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? What do we need to think about in relation to this new information?

14 comments:

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  2. The numbers are interesting to look at and discuss, but modifying the FMP at this time would be premature. No need for a knee-jerk reaction. I also think that looking at percentages would be more telling than raw numbers -- both with regard to per-building increases, and with regard to population vs. capacity. Comparing population to capacity, the top 10 most crowded schools are Twain, Penn, Garner, Longfellow, Lincoln, Tate, Wood, City, Weber and Horn. And the first two are having capacity built into them – per the FMP – as we speak.

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    1. Good thoughts, Julie! Thanks for mentioning them.

      I agree that it remains to be seen whether two years of data would warrant a change to the FMP. I do think it would behoove us to consider when and what changes might be necessary if the data available indicates a larger trend. I believe it is presently an open question whether there will be a trend. That is to say, we don't have enough information at this time to warrant significant changes based on the data to the FMP.

      I also agree that we have plans in place to address many of the overcrowding issues that are currently in place. That's one of the reasons that I didn't highlight that issue. The opening of Alexander, the expansion of Twain, and the expansion at Penn will address many of these concerns.

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  3. I keep wondering how Lincoln will be able to remain open in the future if half of their population will be going to Christine Grant? It seem likely that Lincoln will close in the future. The remaining kids that live in Manville Heights could easily be bused to Mann or Shimek.

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    1. I see the argument there. I'm not convinced by it at this point. If Lincoln is expanded as projected (with a slight bump in operational efficiency that would likely come with it), is filled to its capacity, and has greater socioeconomic diversity without harming those students with the most barriers in front of them; then I think the argument for closure is significantly weakened. As it stands, Lincoln (in 2012-2013) was, when you control for special education and at-risk funding, only about the 5th or 6th from the bottom in terms of operational efficiency (even though it was the second smallest). That makes me think that its expansion could push it to the middle of the pack in terms of operational efficiency. I guess we will see?

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  4. I'd like to think that the increase at Twain is because of Alexander, but it doesn't seem likely. I'd expect that growth to come in the newer housing developments closer to the Alexander site, which aren't in the current Twain zone. It is possible though that Twain has stopped losing people to SINA transfers at the rate it was, so that the affordability of the area combined with fewer transfers out means a net increase. That's all pure conjecture though.

    Twain's enrollment is uncomfortably large right now, large enough that one of the reasons we can't get an extra third grade teacher to relieve unreasonably large class sizes is because there just isn't any available or convertible classroom space. We already have the art teacher out in a portable with no sink. the head count has Twain at 378, but according to our principle a few weeks ago it was at 420. I think that preschool makes up most of that difference, but perhaps not all of it. I don't know what else would though.

    The maps for next year are set to alleviate that, though I think that they go too far in the direction of shrinking the school's enrollment, especially since any magnet school likely won't be operational until 2017 at the very earliest.

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  5. Could be. But I would be surprised if Lincoln went to Grant. It seems like Grant will be needed in order to address future capacity needs in North Liberty.

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    1. About half of the kids who go to Lincoln would be closer to Grant when it is open. (kids that live north of 80 by the res). I can't imagine they won't go there.

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    2. I think "North Lincoln" will probably be redistricted to another school at some point -- which may cause despair and gnashing of teeth from 30-40 people.

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  6. The discrepancy between projection and head count at Twain is really huge. Its not only the largest percentage, its also the largest number of students, by far. I still don't know how to account for it, but its really interesting.

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  7. Reviewing FMP makes sense. We shouldn't blindly follow a plan that doesn't match the developing reality. We need to build capacity where and when it is needed. It might be a matter of rearranging the timeline to better match growth patterns.

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    1. It does make sense if the data shows a trend. I'm not convinced it does yet. I do think it needs to be discussed if the data points indicate a trend over the next year or so.

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  8. My understanding is that there are less Lincoln students grandfathered into West now so more should go to City High plus City picked up an English Language Learner program and there were other additions to English Language Learners programs at some of the schools as well. This means that there might be larger percentage increases for the first four years after a program is added or students moved to the school and then different percentage changes as one group graduates and then another group moves in. A straight application of the cohert survival method isn't going adequately address these additions over a ten year period. Plus, there may have been some stopage of SINA bussing where the impact is just now being felt?

    It would be interesting to see old and new capacity numbers put next to your info as well. Thanks.

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    1. Mary, Thanks for the comment. Yes, you are right about ELL students moving to City High, and that accounts for the large changes last year (and that accounts for the increases over the two year period mostly). I also agree that SINA transfer policies likely has a role to play.

      Capacity numbers could easily be added. I didn't do so, partly because I don't think they necessarily present a long-term problem. That is, Alexander will relieve capacity concerns on the south side, and the expansion at Penn will begin to help at North Liberty (inadequately, however).

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