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School performance is the art and science of measuring school districts based on the standard of education they provide to their students. Districts whose students demonstrate a higher standard of education (typically via test scores, a flawed but useful indicator) are said to perform better. In general the Mt. Lebanon School District (MTLSD) is among the top performers, compared to other Pennsylvania school districts.
The following graph compares the performance of schools in the Mt. Lebanon School District to other schools in Pennsylvania. It compares both absolute and relative performance. The horizontal axis represents absolute performance, measured as the percentage of students testing at the “advanced” level of skill at a particular school. The vertical axis represents relative performance, measured as the percentage of Pennsylvania schools that a particular school outperforms.
Mt. Lebanon schools are represented as blue dots. Comparable schools in the area are represented as dots of various colors, each district having its own color. For context, the remaining schools in the state are represented in the background as a gray line.
For example, let’s consider 5th-grade advanced mathematics. Look at the little graph in the 3rd row (5th Grade) and the 1st column (Math) of the overall graph. From this graph, we can see that the Lincoln Elementary School had about 83 percent of its tested students perform at the “advanced” level, placing the school at the 98th percentile; that is, within the top 2 percent of comparable Pennsylvania schools. The Howe and Washington Elementary Schools (which overlap on the little graph and are hard to read) did not perform as well, having only 45 percent of their students test as “advanced,” placing them at about the 55th percentile of comparable Pennsylvania schools. (In general, for 5th-grade performance, Lincoln is unusually strong, placing within the top 2 percent for all tested subjects.)
Note: The online version of this graph is hard to read because of the large amount of data it presents in a small space. For study, you may wish to download one of the larger-size printable versions or view the results in spreadsheet form (see links after the graph).
Print or download this graph:
- How Mt. Lebanon Schools Compare (letter size)
- How Mt. Lebanon Schools Compare (tabloid size)
- How Mt. Lebanon Schools Compare (poster size)
The following chart is a picture of educational efficiency, comparing the schools from the Mt. Lebanon School District to every other school in Pennsylvania. The chart contrasts two variables: school performance (as far as indicated by test scores) and tuition. School performance is measured by the percentage of students at each school who achieved an “advanced” level of achievement in PSSA tests. Tuition is an indicator of efficiency: for any given level of performance, schools with a lower tuition are more efficient, delivering more education for the money.
Schools having higher test scores will appear toward the right-hand side of their charts, and schools that cost less per student will appear toward the bottom of their charts. The most effective schools, then, are those that combine both attributes and will tend to appear toward the right (performaing better) and bottom (costing less) of their charts.
The following chart uses the same color scheme as the one above. Mt. Lebanon schools are represented as blue dots. Comparable schools in the area are represented as dots of various colors, each district having its own color. For context, the remaining schools in the state are represented in the background as gray.
Print or download this graph:
When one school has higher test scores than another, it is tempting to conclude that the one is more effective than the other. Test scores alone, however, do not provide sufficient evidence for us to make this claim. To see why, imagine two schools, identical in every respect. Because they are identical, we know that they have the same effectiveness. That is, given the same students as inputs, the schools would produce the same test scores as outputs. But if the students we gave each school were not the same, if say we gave the first school more-gifted students than we gave the second, we would expect to see differences in test scores between the schools. Differences such as these are said to confound the causal relationship between school performance and test scores: we cannot rely upon observational evidence alone to claim that one school is more effective than another. To interpret the observational evidence correctly, we must rely upon additional (qualitative) knowledge of the causal relationships that underly the observed relationships.
Therefore, we must be careful when interpreting the evidence on this page. While we can expect that school performance has a profound causal effect upon test scores, we must allow for the effects of other factors (known and unknown) that may also affect test scores.