Editorial: One statistic doesn’t tell the whole story


One statistic incorrectly visualized does not actually provide accurate information about a high school.

Megaphone Staff

College readiness is a term with which this school is very familiar with, and most educators and students can give you a million reasons why.

Our counseling department has always been fantastic with college counselors and academic counselors always prepared to help students along their high school journeys.

Our teachers are top notch as well, as they provide students with the necessary skills to be successful in college, whether it’s writing a 5,000-word paper or being able to participate in a debate over new policies presented within the government. The teachers essentially are the lifeblood of this school as they help develop the great students who go out into the world and become proud to call themselves Cathedral alumni.

Although we pride ourselves in having students who are prepared for college, a two-year-old statistic from the Indiana Department of Education, which was published in a Bishop Chatard High School publication showed Cathedral having a college readiness score that was unrepresentative of the reality here on campus.

Click here to see the publication: http://online.fliphtml5.com/qnso/krca/#p=8

This score was the lowest among the rest of the scores posted, which were all percentages belonging to other schools in Central Indiana. We researched the numbers to find out the background behind the statistics from the publication.

If you research what the Indiana Department of Education provides regarding report cards for schools, you may be confused by all the data that you encounter.. The first issue with this statistic is the inability to distinguish it from all the other reports that were conducted on this school. Several reports on the Indiana Department of Education website show our school in a positive light; however, this statistic, the one that was graphed in comparison to other schools, showed Cathedral in a negative light.

Math teacher Mrs. Christine Koers said in an interview that she is troubled with the statistics that were presented in the publication.

She first acknowledged the fact that the statistics are actually real and can be found on the internet; however, she noted from the beginning that the graph was openly misleading. If you would like to look at where these stats were found, be sure to visit this website link provided and scroll down all the way to the bottom where it states college and career readiness: 

Rather than starting the graph at zero, Chatard’s publication began the graph at 45%, which most AP Statistics students learn in their first weeks in the class is a big no no. Starting the graph at 45% can alter people’s perception of the data, leading to what people today might call “fake news.”

Mrs. Kelly Lucas, the director of marketing and communications at Bishop Chatard, said during a phone call the decision was made to start the graph at 45% because the first score was slightly above that value, which happened to be Cathedral’s 49.6%.

“If we had gone back and started at zero, it would’ve made it a much less effective graphic on the page. There would have been a lot of space that was just solid bars. When you do a graphic like that, you don’t really need all the space that everyone is covering. It’s just a graphic design decision,” said Lucas.

Lucas noted that Chatard initially chose to compare Chatard’s college and career readiness scores with other schools because it highlighted their school’s academic excellence in regards to setting their students up for success in college.

“We needed to put that in perspective; we could’ve just put our number, which was 80 percent, there, but it really wouldn’t have given the reader any kind of context. (The score) demonstrated where we fell in relationship to other schools,” Lucas said.

Koers also noted in her interview that she is worried the statistic might be comparing what she called “apples to oranges.”

When determining this college and career readiness score, the Indiana Department of Education takes into account a few factors.

Mr. Adam Baker, the Indiana Department of Education’s press secretary, said in an email, “The state’s (College Career Readiness) achievement rate score is the percentage of graduates who completed at least one of the following: passed an AP exam, passed an IB exam, earned at least 3 approved dual credits or received an approved industry certification.”

Although these are important factors, it is vital to note that some Central Indiana schools don’t even have IB and may even have varying amounts of dual credit and AP classes. Comparing statistics can get tricky when the variables are not as similar as they should or could be. Comparison must line up closely in order to be accurate.

The most important aspect to note about this entire college and career readiness score is that determining that score is more than just looking at the statistics behind a few AP, IB  and dual credit classes.

Students at Cathedral are ready for college because, for one, they are getting into college with good grades, solid extracurricular activities and a mind prepared to engage in the active community that college provides.

Citing the whole of one school’s college and career readiness is not possible, especially not based on a few exams.

Our students are more than prepared for college.

Editors’ note: The Megaphone would like to affirm that we are in no way suggesting Chatard intentionally meant to use the graph to degrade the college preparedness that a student has the potential to receive here on campus nor are we calling Chatard’s publication “fake news.” We realize that they used their score to simply highlight their achievements. We only wished to point out what we found slightly troubling about the style of the graph in regards to what a typical and statistically valid graph might show.