Manchester's Education Benchmarks - Using data to map a pathway to success September 2014

 
Manchester’s
Education Benchmarks
Using data to map
a pathway to success

September 2014
Author
Daniel Barrick
Deputy Director

About this paper
The research in this paper was funded in part by the Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation
of Manchester, N.H. The data and analysis presented here, however, are the Center’s alone. We
also wish to acknowledge the many individuals, representing public- and private-sector
organizations, who shared data, information and advice in the development of this paper.

This paper, like all of our published work, is in the public domain and may be reproduced without
permission. Indeed, the Center welcomes individuals’ and groups’ efforts to expand the paper’s
circulation. Copies are available at no charge on the Center’s web site: www.nhpolicy.org.

Contact the Center at info@nhpolicy.org; or call 603-226-2500.
Write to: NHCPPS, 1 Eagle Square, Suite 510, Concord, NH 03301
Table of Contents
Executive summary............................................................................................................. 1
  Major findings ................................................................................................................. 2
  The policy challenge ....................................................................................................... 2
Methodology ....................................................................................................................... 4
Manchester: New Hampshire’s melting pot ....................................................................... 6
  The city’s changing demographic profile ....................................................................... 7
  Student demographic trends ............................................................................................ 9
  Developmental indicators ............................................................................................. 15
Financial trends ................................................................................................................. 16
  Per-pupil property valuation ......................................................................................... 16
  Per-pupil spending ........................................................................................................ 17
  Teacher salaries ............................................................................................................. 21
  Class size....................................................................................................................... 23
Student outcomes .............................................................................................................. 27
  Early assessments.......................................................................................................... 27
  NECAP scores .............................................................................................................. 28
  Achievement gaps ......................................................................................................... 32
  High school student success.......................................................................................... 45
    Graduation rates & college-going ............................................................................. 47
    SAT scores & college-going ..................................................................................... 49
Higher education ............................................................................................................... 52
  Manchester Community College .................................................................................. 52
  University of New Hampshire ...................................................................................... 57
Conclusion: Identifying policy responses ......................................................................... 59
Appendix: Manchester Summary Education Indicators ................................................... 62

                                                   List of Figures
Figure 1: Births to single mothers on Medicaid have grown sharply over the past decade
in Manchester ...................................................................................................................... 8
Figure 2: Manchester's rate of underweight births has tracked slightly higher than the
state for much of the past two decades. .............................................................................. 9
Figure 3: Student enrollment has fallen over the past decade in NH & Manchester .......... 9
Figure 4: The percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch has risen steadily in
Manchester and the entire state. ........................................................................................ 11
Figure 5: Low-income student enrollment varies widely across Manchester's schools. .. 12
Figure 6: Manchester's student population has been growing more diverse over the past
decade. .............................................................................................................................. 13
Figure 7: The share of students who lack proficiency in English has risen over the past
decade, with a decline over the past three years. .............................................................. 14
Figure 8: The percent of English language learners at Manchester's schools varies
considerably ...................................................................................................................... 14
Figure 9: The share of students who are homeless or deemed truant (as measured by
unexcused absences) varies considerably from school to school. .................................... 15
Figure 10: Manchester's per-pupil property value has been falling as a share of the
statewide average over the past decade. ........................................................................... 17
Figure 11: Manchester has among the lowest per-pupil spending levels in the state. (Each
bar in chart represents one NH school district, and one bar for state average.)................ 18
Figure 12: Per-pupil spending has increased at a faster rate over the past decade for the
state than for Manchester alone. ....................................................................................... 19
Figure 13: Spending on special programs has increased in Manchester schools at a much
faster rate than the rest of New Hampshire ....................................................................... 20
Figure 14: Average teacher salaries have risen faster in Manchester over the past few
years than for the statewide average. ................................................................................ 21
Figure 15: Average teacher salaries, Manchester and selected nearby districts ............... 22
Figure 16: The student-teacher ratio in Manchester has increased in recent years, while
the statewide ratio has decreased slightly. ........................................................................ 23
Figure 17: Average class size for grades 1 & 2 have risen over the past 5 years in
Manchester. ....................................................................................................................... 24
Figure 18: Average class size for grades 3 & 4 have risen as well over the same period. 24
Figure 19: Average 5th Grade class size have not seen as sharp an increase in
Manchester. ....................................................................................................................... 25
Figure 20: Students with limited English, disabilities or from disadvantaged socio-
economic status perform worse on kindergarten math assessments ................................. 27
Figure 21: Number of children enrolled and on wait-list for spots in Head Start early
childhood classes in Manchester ....................................................................................... 28
Figure 22: After several years of steady increase, NECAP reading scores flattened or
declined have in recent years. ........................................................................................... 30
Figure 23: NECAP math scores have flattened or declined in the past few years at most
grade levels. ...................................................................................................................... 31
Figure 24: Statewide NECAP reading scores have hit a plateau after an initial period of
annual increases. ............................................................................................................... 31
Figure 25: Statewide math NECAP scores have generally seen little improvement in the
past six years. .................................................................................................................... 32
Figure 26: Reading scores vary considerably by subgroup. ............................................. 33
Figure 27: Variation in scores among subgroups is similar in Manchester and all of New
Hampshire. ........................................................................................................................ 34
Figure 28: Achievement gaps for 3rd Grade reading in Manchester, 2005-2013 ............ 35
Figure 29: 7th grade math scores in Manchester vary widely across student subgroups. 36
Figure 30: Variation in math proficiency at the state level mirrors the variation in
Manchester, though at higher across the board levels ...................................................... 37
Figure 31: Achievement gaps, 7th Grade Math, Manchester (2005-2013) ...................... 37
Figure 32 ........................................................................................................................... 38
Figure 33 ........................................................................................................................... 39
Figure 34 ........................................................................................................................... 39
Figure 35 ........................................................................................................................... 40
Figure 36 ........................................................................................................................... 41
Figure 37 ........................................................................................................................... 41
Figure 38 ........................................................................................................................... 42
Figure 39 ........................................................................................................................... 42
Figure 40 ........................................................................................................................... 43
Figure 41: Subgroup gaps, Manchester and New Hampshire........................................... 44
Figure 42: The percent of Manchester students taking AP courses has not kept up with
the statewide growth over the past six years. .................................................................... 45
Figure 43: Drop-out rates at Manchester high schools have risen sharply since 2009-10.
........................................................................................................................................... 46
Figure 44: Graduation rates vary considerably by student population subgroup. ............ 47
Figure 45: Graduation rates: Manchester, New Hampshire, United States ...................... 48
Figure 46: Graduation rates among student subgroups vary across the city's high schools.
........................................................................................................................................... 48
Figure 47: SAT scores for Manchester students have fallen sharply since 2005-06. ....... 49
Figure 48: The percent of Manchester high school graduates going to two- and four-year
colleges has fallen over the past few years. ...................................................................... 50
Figure 49: The percentage of graduates going on to higher education has fallen ............ 51
Figure 50: Manchester Community Enrollment by gender for Manchester graduates and
all other students (2012-13) .............................................................................................. 52
Figure 51: More than two-thirds of Manchester students at MCC are white, non-Hispanic.
........................................................................................................................................... 53
Figure 52: The racial/ethnic makeup of the rest of the MCC student body is similar to
that for students from Manchester. ................................................................................... 54
Figure 53: The ratio of students requiring remedial courses at MCC was fairly even for
Manchester graduates as a whole. ..................................................................................... 55
Figure 54: The share of students requiring remedial courses at MCC in 2012 varied
significantly across racial/ethnic groups and high school................................................. 56
Figure 55: The share of students returning for a second year at MCC was higher for
Manchester high school graduates than for the rest of the student body. ......................... 56
Figure 56: Retention rates by race/ethnicity vary considerably by high school. .............. 57
Figure 57: Average SAT scores for Manchester graduates at UNH have been lower than
their peers. ......................................................................................................................... 58
Figure 58: Cumulative GPA of Manchester students has risen above that of other UNH
students. ............................................................................................................................ 58

                                                      List of Tables
Table 1: Manchester's population is more diverse, and faces more financial burdens, than
New Hampshire as a whole................................................................................................. 6
Table 2: Percent change in student population by grade level, Manchester and State of
New Hampshire ................................................................................................................ 10
Table 3: Average teacher salaries and total salaries & benefits as a percentage of
spending, Manchester and New Hampshire..................................................................... 22
Table 4: Average class size, by grade (2013-14) .............................................................. 25
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                             1

Executive summary
The past decade has been a period of intense change for public schools in Manchester.
The Great Recession and the resulting decline in the property tax base have stressed
district finances. A drop in the number of students, combined with steady increases in the
diversity of the student body and childhood poverty rates, have added further demands.
School policy reforms, including national efforts like No Child Left Behind and the
Common Core State Standards, and the decision by some neighboring towns to end
tuition agreement with Manchester’s schools, have brought additional uncertainty to the
city’s education system.

Through these changes, one fundamental question has been difficult to answer: How well
is Manchester’s school system preparing students for a successful future?

Understanding the relationship between changing financial, demographic and
instructional trends, and student outcomes, is central to answering that question. Such
data can be used to analyze student achievement data, evaluate specific programs, shape
curricular and instructional choices, and realign resources to better fit the district’s goals.
This effort is of particular relevance now, given widespread concerns that Manchester’s
schools are perceived by some as inferior or – even worse – failing.

However, people interested in understanding and improving
the city’s educational system have had few objective tools            This is a guide to where
with which to work. A recent audit of the district concluded          Manchester’s schools
that Manchester lacked a timely, relevant set of data upon            and students stand
which to analyze trends in student achievement and assess the         today, but it does not
effectiveness of instruction. “The district does not have a plan      necessarily predict
for the use of data for decision making in all district               where they are heading.
operations,” according to the auditors.1

This report is meant to address that shortcoming. We present a range of data that paints a
complicated portrait of public education in Manchester. That includes traditional
measures of success, such as test scores and graduation rates. But we also extend our
analysis to cover issues outside the school walls – to investigate the factors that influence
successful outcomes at the earliest and latest points in a student’s educational experience.
Researchers sometimes refer to this as the “cradle to career” pathway: an individual’s
journey as he or she moves from birth to adulthood, and the series of policies, systems
and environments (personal, familial, community and educational) that shape his or her
development on that journey. To that end, we include, as an appendix to this report, a
single-page “Summary Education Indicators” that displays trends in six key measures of
child and student achievement within the district. Each of the six measures refers to a
critical stage in a child’s pathway from birth to high school and beyond.

1
 “A Curriculum Audit of the Manchester School District,” June 2013, International Curriculum
Management Audit Center, Phi Delta Kappa International, Bloomington, Indiana
https://docs.google.com/a/mansd.org/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=bWFuc2Qub3JnfG1hbmNoZXN0ZXJ
zZHxneDo1MTZkNmM5MDFiZmE4YTEx
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                          2

Of course, no single data point should be given too much prominence in the overall
analysis. Our goal is to help in the larger goal-setting process for Manchester’s schools
by focusing attention on shortcomings, disparities and areas of promise. Taken as a
whole, the data provides a series of baseline measures that can be updated as needed and
will let district leaders track progress in a clear manner. This is a guide to where
Manchester’s schools and students have been and where they stand today, but it does not
necessarily predict where they are heading.

Major findings
Our major findings from this data include:

   •   Disparities in student success persist at many levels and few show any trend
       toward closing. These “achievement gaps” between student subgroups (including
       racial/ethnic background, economic status, disability status, and English-language
       learner status) can be seen in many measurements: early school readiness,
       standardized test scores, high school graduation rates, and post-secondary
       performance, among others. In many cases, the gaps between student sub-
       populations have remained steady for years, or are actually growing. In some
       cases, the district’s achievement gaps are wider than the comparable gaps at the
       state and/or national levels.
   •   In many measures of high school student achievement, the gaps against statewide
       measures are widening. This includes measures such as student drop-out rates,
       graduation rates, and college-going rates.
   •   Class sizes are increasing at lower grades, with considerable disparities across
       schools, even as student enrollment has fallen over the past decade.
   •   Citywide property valuation (the fiscal basis for public school funding) has fallen
       since the recession at a faster rate than for New Hampshire as a whole, meaning
       Manchester’s ability to raise money for education is not keeping pace with the
       rest of the state.
   •   Manchester’s overall demographic trend is cause for concern. With rising levels
       of child poverty and low-income status among students, and growing numbers of
       births to low-income, single mothers, the long-term demographic pressures on the
       district demand the attention of policymakers.

The policy challenge
How should policymakers – and others interested in the city’s schools – react to this
data? We do not offer any specific policy responses in this work, though we hope it
sparks conversations among people who might not usually find themselves engaged in
education policy debates. The future of Manchester’s school system has implications for
every aspect of the city’s life: economic vitality, civic life, health and well-being of its
residents, and beyond. More broadly, Manchester’s schools are a vital piece of the
statewide education system, as roughly 8 percent of all public school students in New
Hampshire go to school in Manchester, the largest share for a single district. And the rest
of the state is seeing many of the same trends that Manchester is – including growing
student diversity and rising levels of economic hardship – though at lower levels than for
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                             3

the city. What is happening in Manchester’s schools truly matters for the rest of New
Hampshire.

One way to digest the data here is to divide it into a handful of categories, and then think
of the data within each category as part of a system of interrelated policy options. Those
categories might include:

   •   Demographic/family/community conditions (e.g. ethnic/racial trends, poverty
       rate, median income, housing stability, etc.)
   •   Early childhood measures (e.g. child poverty, births data, health and well-being,
       access to high quality preschool, etc.)
   •   Student achievement data (e.g. test scores, graduation rates, AP courses, drop-
       out rates, etc.)
   •   College/career readiness data (e.g. rates of college-going, persistence,
       graduation, etc.)
   •   Education inputs (e.g. funding levels, per-pupil spending, salaries, average
       classroom sizes, etc.)

This framework can help map the broader network of
forces and policies that impact the success of the               While some of the
educational system. Among other things, we need to               numbers here may be
better define the goals for the schools and their students,      discouraging, there is
and choose benchmarks to measure successful progress to          plenty of good news, too.
those goals. We need to identify gaps in the data that will      Manchester’s schools are
help us better measure success. And we need to think             vibrant places, full of
about the potential partners that can assist in this effort.     innovative approaches
                                                                 to education.
While some of the numbers in this report may be
discouraging, there is plenty of good news as well.
Manchester’s schools are vibrant places, full of positive stories and innovative
approaches to education. More than 70 languages are spoken by city students, and the
student body is among the most diverse in Northern New England. Many Manchester
businesses and non-profits have partnered with the district to provide mentoring
opportunities, expand science and technology course options, or augment basic
instructional approaches. And local colleges offer ways for high school students to
participate in more challenging, college-level classes.

As we hope this research makes clear, the story of education in Manchester is not a
simple one about funding levels, immigration, poverty, or test scores. The data we have
collected is just a beginning, but it starts to illustrate the interrelation of numerous trends
in Manchester over the past decade. Likewise, the answer to the challenges described
here will require some blend of approaches, likely involving curriculum and instructional
changes, incentives to attract the next generation of teachers, partnerships with
community groups and businesses, and budgetary responses. The question now facing
district leaders is how to harness the strengths of the district’s changing demographics,
while adopting new policies to address the challenges the schools are still facing.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                          4

Methodology
In compiling the data for this report, we looked to a number of sources: the U.S. Census
and American Community Survey databases, the New Hampshire Department of
Education, U.S. Department of Education, Manchester School District data, the New
Hampshire Division of Vital Records, Manchester Health Department data, and other
sources.

We limited our review to data that came from a reliable source, that had been measured
consistently over time, and that would be readily understandable. While much of this data
is already available to the public, by gathering it within a single document and showing
how it has changed over time we hope to shed light on broader issues related to education
in Manchester and the impact of various community forces shaping the city’s school
system.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                   5

                          Manchester’s Public School System includes
              14 elementary schools, 4 middle schools and 3 traditional high schools.

                                                                       Smyth Road ES

                                                     Central HS                Hillside MS
       Webster ES
                                                                               McDonough ES
  Northwest ES                                                                     Wilson ES
                                                                                         Weston ES

Gossler Park ES
                                                                                    Hallsville ES
     Parkside MS                                                                      Jewett Street ES
                                                                                           Southside MS
         West HS                                                                        Memorial HS
   Beech Street ES

           Parker Varney ES

                           Bakersville ES
                                                                         McLaughlin MS

                      Highland-Goffs Falls ES
                                                          Green Acres ES

  Note: Red dots indicate elementary schools, green dots indicate middle schools, and purple dots
          indicate high schools. Colored areas on map cover elementary school districts
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                               6

Manchester: New Hampshire’s melting pot
Manchester’s schools are intricately tied to and influenced by the neighborhoods where
they are located. In order to better understand the educational data at the foundation of
this analysis, we first examine the broader demographic and economic context in which
the schools operate. Research has shown that a student’s home and community
environment play key roles in his or her school success. Family socio-economic status
“sets the stage for students’ academic performance both by directly providing resources
at home and by indirectly providing the social capital that is necessary to succeed in
school.”2

Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, is home to 110,000 people, representing
about 8 percent of the statewide population. However, there is considerable racial, ethnic,
and economic variation between the city and the rest of New Hampshire (Table 1). For
instance, the percent of the city population that is non-white is more than double the
statewide rate. Manchester also has a much higher share of residents who do not speak
English as a primary language (19 percent vs. 8 percent for New Hampshire) and a higher
share of foreign born residents (12 percent vs. 5 percent statewide).

                    Table 1: Manchester's population is more diverse, and faces
                     more financial burdens, than New Hampshire as a whole.
                                               2000                     2012 (estimates)
                                       Manchester      NH      Manchester      NH           US
Population                              107,006    1,235,786    110,209    1,320,718 316,128,839
Pop. Under 18                            23.7%       25.0%       21.1%       20.8%        23.5%
Median age                                34.9        37.2        37.4        41.9          37
Median household income                 $40,774     $49,467     $54,644     $63,280      $53,046
Poverty rate                             10.6%        6.5%       17.0%       10.0%        14.9%
Unemployment rate (April 2014)            2.6%        2.7%        4.6%        4.3%         5.9%
Pop w/high school diploma or higher      80.7%       87.4%       88.0%       91.8%        85.7%
Pop. w/bachelor's degree or higher       22.3%       28.7%       26.5%       34.6%        28.5%
Foreign-born pop.                         9.4%        4.4%       11.1%        5.4%        12.9%
English not primary language at home     19.6%        8.3%       17.6%        7.9%        20.5%
% Hispanic                                4.6%        1.7%        7.2%        3.0%        16.9%
% Non-Hispanic White                     89.3%       95.1%       82.2%       91.8%        63.0%
% Black                                   2.1%        0.7%        4.8%        1.3%        13.1%
% Asian                                   2.3%        1.3%        3.7%        2.3%         5.1%
Owner occupied housing units             46.0%       69.7%       48.5%       70.9%        65.5%
                     Source: US Census Bureau, American Community Survey

In several economic measures, Manchester’s population fares worse than the rest of the
state. The city has a lower median income, higher poverty rate, and higher unemployment
rate than New Hampshire as a whole. In addition, a much lower share of Manchester
residents own their own home (47 percent vs. 71 percent statewide).

The reasons for this disparity are numerous. Dating back to its emergence as a
manufacturing hub in the 1800s, Manchester has attracted immigrants seeking

2
 “Socio-economic Status and Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analytic Review of Research,” Sirin,
Selcuk R., Review of Education Research, Fall 2005.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                  7

employment because of the city’s relatively low housing costs, jobs, and public
transportation. These recent immigrants tend to be more racially diverse than current
residents, and they tend, as a group, to have lower levels of education.3 In addition,
Manchester for many years has been a designated resettlement city for international
refugees, who have largely come from Asian and African countries in recent years.4

Given the established role that economic status and racial/ethnic background play in
shaping children’s education outcomes, it is not surprising that Manchester’s students
fare differently than many of their peers in communities across the state that are less
racially diverse and more economically prosperous. Thus, understanding the trends in the
city’s demographics is critical in developing a strategy for strengthening its schools.

The city’s changing demographic profile
One way to get a sense of how Manchester’s demography is shifting is to look at birth
statistics, as compiled by the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Division of Vital
Records Administration.

What can statistics on births in Manchester tell us about the city’s schools? At the most
basic level, trends in birth rates indicate the direction that school enrollments might take
in coming years, depending on whether more or fewer children are being born in the city.
We can also examine data about the economic and demographic profile of the women
giving birth, as researchers have found strong links between a mother’s income and
educational levels, and the educational achievement of her child.5

Births to women residing in Manchester have been essentially flat over the past decade,
with a 1 percent decrease in total births between 2002 and 2013. However, births to
unwed mothers have increased by 20 percent over that period, while births to single
mothers on Medicaid rose 64 percent, to the point that nearly one third of Manchester
births in 2013 were to single women on Medicaid (Figure 1).

Why is this trend significant? Research indicates that children born to unmarried mothers
are more likely to be raised in a single-parent household, experience unstable living
arrangements, live in poverty, and have worse educational outcomes than their peers.6
And Medicaid coverage is an indicator of economic hardship, as it is only available to
pregnant women who earn below 185 percent of the federal poverty line.

3
  “Immigration to Manchester, NH: History, Trends and Implications,” Ward, Young & Grimm, Carsey
Institute Regional Brief No. 39, Spring 2014.
4
  New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, “Refugee Facts.”
http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/omh/refugee/facts.htm
5
  “The Influence of Parent Education and Family Income on Child Achievement,”
Davis-Kean, Pamela E., Journal of Family Psychology, June 2005
6
  See “Child Trends Data Bank”: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=births-to-unmarried-women
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                                                                   8

                   Figure 1: Births to single mothers on Medicaid have grown sharply
                                   over the past decade in Manchester

                                     Births to Manchester women, 1995 to 2013
      1200                                                                                                                                    35%
                               Births to wed mothers
                               Births to unwed mothers
                               % births to single women on Medicaid                                                                           30%
      1000

                                                                                                                                              25%
       800

                                                                                                                                              20%

       600

                                                                                                                                              15%

       400
                                                                                                                                              10%

       200
                                                                                                                                              5%

         0                                                                                                                                    0%
           95

                  96

                         97

                                98

                                       99

                                              00

                                                     01

                                                            02

                                                                   03

                                                                          04

                                                                                 05

                                                                                        06

                                                                                               07

                                                                                                      08

                                                                                                             09

                                                                                                                    10

                                                                                                                           11

                                                                                                                                  12

                                                                                                                                         13
         19

                19

                       19

                              19

                                     19

                                            20

                                                   20

                                                          20

                                                                 20

                                                                        20

                                                                               20

                                                                                      20

                                                                                             20

                                                                                                    20

                                                                                                           20

                                                                                                                  20

                                                                                                                         20

                                                                                                                                20

                                                                                                                                       20
                                Source: NH Division of Vital Records Administration

Nationally, births to single mothers increased at a similar rate over the past decade,
though the share of total births to unwed mothers has consistently been higher in
Manchester. In 2013, 44.3 percent of births in Manchester were to unwed mothers. The
New Hampshire rate was 35.1 percent, and the national rate was 40.7 percent (2012 data).

There are other early childhood indicators that bear
observation. The rate of underweight births (newborns                                                      Birth weight is an
who weigh less than 2,500 grams at birth, or roughly 5.5                                                   important indicator of
pounds) has tracked slightly higher in Manchester than                                                     educational success, as
for New Hampshire as a whole for most years over the                                                       low-birth-weight babies are
past two decades (Figure 2).                                                                               at higher risk of cognitive
                                                                                                           difficulties later in life.
This is an important indicator of educational success, as
low-birth-weight babies are at a higher risk of cognitive
difficulties later in life, including lags in school readiness and achievement.7 It is worth
noting that the rate of low-weight births has increased steadily for the state as a whole
since 1996, while the figure for Manchester has fluctuated.

7
 “Low Birth Weight and School Readiness,” Reichman, Nancy E., The Future of Children, Woodrow
Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Spring 2005.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                                 9

          Figure 2: Manchester's rate of underweight births has tracked slightly higher
                       than the state for much of the past two decades.

                     Percent of babies born underweight (less than 2,500 grams)

        9%

                                        NH
        8%                              Manchester

        7%

        6%

        5%

        4%

        3%
           95

           96

           97

           98

           99

           00

           01

           02

           03

           04

           05

           06

           07

           08

           09

           10

           11

           12
         19

         19

         19

         19

         19

         20

         20

         20

         20

         20

         20

         20

         20

         20

         20

         20

         20

         20
                           Source: NH Division of Vital Records Administration

Student demographic trends
Like the state of New Hampshire as a whole, Manchester has seen a steady decline in
public school enrollment over the past decade. However, the decline has been steeper in
Manchester: a 16 percent reduction in students between 2002-03 and 2013-14, compared
to an 11 percent decline for all of New Hampshire.

        Figure 3: Student enrollment has fallen over the past decade in NH & Manchester
                               Public school enrollment, Manchester & NH, 2002-2013

        250,000
                                                             11% decline

        200,000

        150,000
                               NH
                               MANCHESTER
        100,000

                                                              16% decline
         50,000

              0
                  03

                          04

                                    05

                                            06

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                 -

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               02

                         03

                                  04

                                           05

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                                                                                                    12

                                                                                                            13
             20

                       20

                                20

                                         20

                                                 20

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                                                                  20

                                                                          20

                                                                                  20

                                                                                          20

                                                                                                  20

                                                                                                          20
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                           10

In Manchester, the enrollment decline was sharpest among high school student
populations, which declined 27 percent between 2002 and 2013 (from 6,600 students to
roughly 4,800 students). Much of that decline is due to the decision by several
neighboring towns to no longer send their students to Manchester schools, in particular
the opening of Bedford High School in 2007 and the gradual withdrawal of Bedford
students from Manchester High School West.

Table 2 below tries to account for this, by looking just at student population change over
just the past four school years (2010-11 through 2013-14), as well as by separating the
data by grade level: kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school.

                  Table 2: Percent change in student population by grade level,
                            Manchester and State of New Hampshire
                                 Manchester                  New Hampshire
                             `02 to `13 `10 to `13         `02 to `13 `10 to `13
               Kindergarten      23.4%       0.3%              18.9%      -2.7%
               Elementary       -10.6%       0.0%             -14.7%      -3.5%
               Middle School    -18.7%      -7.5%             -18.8%      -4.8%
               High School      -26.9%     -14.0%              -7.0%      -6.6%
               Total            -16.2%      -6.3%             -10.8%      -4.5%

We see that, since 2002, the high school student body in Manchester has fallen by more
than a quarter (26.9 percent), while the statewide figure fell by just 7 percent. But even
looking at the period after the departure of Bedford high school students, the city’s total
high school population continued to fall, at 14 percent – or more than twice the rate of
decline of the statewide high school population (6.6 percent.) Likewise, Manchester’s
middle school student population has fallen at a faster rate than the statewide middle
school student body since 2010. Yet the number of elementary students has held steady in
Manchester while falling 3.5 percent statewide.

These overall trends are the result of a complicated set of forces, including birthrates,
migration patterns in and out of the city, and school choice by parents. Some of these
forces are described in detail, where relevant, later in this paper.

At the same time that the total student population has been on a steady decline, overall
student demographics have been changing rapidly, both within Manchester and statewide,
as illustrated in the following four figures.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                        11

        Figure 4: The percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch has risen steadily
                                 in Manchester and the entire state.
                        Free/reduced lunch population, Manchester & NH, 2006-2013

           60%

                            NH
                            MAN
           50%

           40%

           30%

           20%

           10%

            0%
                  2006-07   2007-08   2008-09   2009-10   2010-11   2011-12   2012-13   2013-14

The best indicator of the economic background of a student body is the percent of pupils
who are eligible for free and reduced lunch at school. This categorization is based on the
income reported by families of students.8 Students who qualify for this program are
generally described as coming from a low-income background or having a disadvantaged
socio-economic status.

Figure 4 above shows that the share of students eligible for free/reduced lunch in both
Manchester and the state as a whole has increased steadily in recent years. The sharp
uptick in low-income students in Manchester for 2010-11 school year is due, in part, to a
change in the way the district gathered family income data from students at the city high
schools. This change resulted in data available for considerably more students and a
commensurate increase in the share categorized as “low income” based on free-and-
reduced lunch status.

Across the district, there is great variation in the low-income student population from
school to school (Figure 5). The share of students eligible for free/reduced meals last year
ranged from 90 percent at Beech Street Elementary School to 23 at Green Acres
Elementary School. The districtwide rate was 51 percent last year, close to twice the
statewide rate of 28 percent.

8
 To qualify for a free school lunch, a student from a family of four cannot have household income that
exceeds $30,615. For a reduced price lunch, that same student cannot have household income above
$43,569. That amount increases or decreases depending on the number of individuals in the household.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                            12

           Figure 5: Low-income student enrollment varies widely across Manchester's schools.
              Percent of Student Population Eligible for Free/Reduced School Lunches
                                            (2013-14)
    100%
    90%
    80%
    70%
    60%
    50%
    40%
    30%
    20%
    10%
     0%

As the number of low-income students has been rising in Manchester, the district’s
student body has been growing more diverse in terms of racial and ethnic composition.
The percent of students that are non-white and/or Hispanic (including African American,
Asian, Hispanic, Native American or multi-racial) has increased from 20 percent of the
student population to 35 percent over the past eight years.9 New Hampshire’s statewide
non-white student population rose from 6 percent to just more than 11 percent over the
same period.

9
  Beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, the New Hampshire Department of Education added a “multi-
racial” category for student ethnic/racial background. The share of students reported as multi-racial each
year has remained about 2 percent for the entire state, and between 5 and 6 percent for Manchester.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                                                                                                  13

     Figure 6: Manchester's student population has been growing more diverse over the past decade.
                                                        Non-White student population, Manchester & NH

             40%

             35%
                                       Non-White NH
                                       Non-White MAN
             30%

             25%

             20%

             15%

             10%

              5%

              0%
                                   6                7                  8              09                 0                 1                 2                3                4
                          5   -0               -0                 -0             8-                   -1                -1                -1                -1               -1
                       00                 06                 07                00              00
                                                                                                  9
                                                                                                                 01
                                                                                                                    0
                                                                                                                                   01
                                                                                                                                      1
                                                                                                                                                     01
                                                                                                                                                        2
                                                                                                                                                                      01
                                                                                                                                                                         3
                   2                   20                 20               2               2                 2                 2                 2                2

Research has pointed to the educational benefits of diversity for students in racially
diverse districts. Data has shown that students have stronger levels of comfort with
people from racial and ethnic groups different than their own, and that students report
higher levels of educational aspirations across the board in these environments. However,
those impacts may vary across racial and ethnic
groups.10 In any event, the demographic data indicate
that educators in Manchester should expect an               Demographic trends indicate
increasingly diverse student body in city schools. As       that Manchester’s educators
we will discuss later, this could heighten concerns         should expect an increasingly
about student achievement disparities based on race         diverse student body.
and ethnicity.

Manchester has long had among the highest percentages of non-English-speaking
students in the state, reflecting the city’s high number of recent immigrants. But the
percent of students rated as “limited proficient” in English has remained relatively
constant over the past decade, fluctuating between 6.5 percent and 11 percent of all
students in Manchester since 2002-03 (Figure 7).

10
 “The Impact of Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Educational Outcomes: Lynn, Mass. School District,”
Harvard University, The Civil Rights Project, 2002
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                  14

                     Figure 7: The share of students who lack proficiency in English
                 has risen over the past decade, with a decline over the past three years.

                                 Limited English Proficiency student population,
                                          New Hampshire & Manchester

          12%

          10%

          8%

          6%
                                                               New Hampshire
                                                               Manchester
          4%

          2%

          0%
                   3

                             4

                                       5

                                       6

                                                 7

                                                           8

                                                           9

                                                                     0

                                                                     1

                                                                     2

                                                                                     3

                                                                                               4
                 -0

                           -0

                                     -0

                                     -0

                                               -0

                                                         -0

                                                         -0

                                                                   -1

                                                                   -1

                                                                   -1

                                                                                   -1

                                                                                             -1
               02

                         03

                                   04

                                   05

                                             06

                                                       07

                                                       08

                                                                 09

                                                                 10

                                                                 11

                                                                                 12

                                                                                           13
             20

                       20

                                 20

                                 20

                                           20

                                                     20

                                                     20

                                                               20

                                                               20

                                                               20

                                                                               20

                                                                                         20
However, the share of English language learners varies considerably from school to
school, from 2 percent of total students at Smyth Road Elementary School to more than
25 percent at Beech Street Elementary School and slightly less than 25 percent at
Bakersville Elementary School (Figure 8).

  Figure 8: The percent of English language learners at Manchester's schools varies considerably

                       Percent of students with limited proficiency in English,
                                    Manchester schools (2013-14)
     25.0%

     20.0%

     15.0%

     10.0%

      5.0%

      0.0%
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Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                           15

Interestingly, the percent of limited English students has declined since 2010 at all but
four of Manchester’s school (Central, McDonough, Webster and Weston).

Developmental indicators
Measures of the stability of student home life vary considerably across the district (Figure
9). In some elementary schools, as many as one quarter of all students were deemed
truant last year, as measured by at least 10 half-days with an unexcused absence during
the academic year. In other schools, that rate was as low as 3 percent. Similarly, the
student mobility rate (a measure of the percent of students who leave or enter a school in
one academic year) varies from 5 percent to 17 percent across the district’s elementary
schools.

               Figure 9: The share of students who are homeless or deemed truant
         (as measured by unexcused absences) varies considerably from school to school.
                                          Homeless       Truancy      Mobility
                                         student rate       rate       rate
                                           (2013-14)     (2013-14) (2011-12)
                Elementary Schools
                Bakersville                   3%           15%         15%
                Beech Street                  9%           24%         16%
                Gossler Park                  4%           26%         17%
                Green Acres                   1%             4%         5%
                Hallsville                    2%           14%          8%
                Highland-Goffs Falls          1%             9%         6%
                Jewett                        1%           17%         13%
                McDonough                     6%           21%         15%
                Northwest                     4%           12%         12%
                Parker Varney                 5%           16%         17%
                Smyth Road                    1%           14%          8%
                Webster                       5%             3%        11%
                Weston                        2%             5%         6%
                Wilson                        7%           26%         12%
                Middle Schools
                Hillside                      3%             6%         9%
                McLaughlin                    5%           20%          8%
                Parkside                      3%           21%          8%
                Southside                     3%           22%          9%
                High Schools
                Central                       1%           27%          5%
                Memorial                      2%             9%         4%
                West                          1%           31%          6%
                District                      3%            17%         8%

All of these measures, particularly at the elementary school level, correlate strongly with
indicators of income, as measured by the percent of students eligible for free-and-reduced
school lunch. In other words, schools with high rates of low-income students tend to have
higher rates of student homelessness, truancy and mobility.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                        16

Financial trends
Spending on education is one of the major uses of public tax dollars, and education
funding has consistently figured in fiscal debates in the Legislature over the past two
decades. But questions of how tax dollars get spent are not just a budgetary matter: They
should also help us understand the relationship between educational system “inputs” (per-
pupil spending, teacher salaries, class sizes, spending on special programs, etc.) and
student outcomes (test scores, drop-out rates, graduation rates, etc.)

Nationally, the question of whether more spending results in greater student achievement
is among the most hotly debated in education research. And while conclusions differ on
that matter, it is widely acknowledged that there is a higher cost associated with teaching
certain populations of students, including low-income students, English-language
learners, and students with disabilities.

Per-pupil property valuation
New Hampshire, like many states, relies heavily on local property taxes to fund public
education. Annual equalized property valuation represents the total tax base within each
school district in the state. By comparing that number to the number of students in the
district, we get the per-pupil property valuation. This
amount gives us a sense of the size of the tax base
available to fund public schools. Both the statewide         While both the Manchester
property tax and the local education property tax use        and statewide per-pupil
equalized property valuation in calculating the tax rate.    property  valuation has fallen
                                                             since the Recession, the drop
Manchester’s per-pupil property valuation rose steadily      has been considerably steeper
through the first half of the 2000s, at roughly the same     in Manchester.
pace as the statewide average (Figure 10). But while
both the Manchester and statewide figures have fallen
since the recession (2007-08), Manchester’s per-pupil figure has fallen at a steeper pace.
Whereas Manchester’s per-pupil valuation was equal to between 80 percent and 84
percent of the statewide value in the early 2000s, it now stands at 70 percent of the
statewide value.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                         17

                   Figure 10: Manchester's per-pupil property value has been falling
                       as a share of the statewide average over the past decade.
     1,000,000                                                                                    90.0%

      900,000                                                                                     80.0%

      800,000         State average
                                                                                                  70.0%
                      Manchester
      700,000         Man./state ratio (right axis)
                                                                                                  60.0%
      600,000
                                                                                                  50.0%
      500,000
                                                                                                  40.0%
      400,000
                                                                                                  30.0%
      300,000

                                                                                                  20.0%
      200,000

      100,000                                                                                     10.0%

            0                                                                                     0.0%
                 2000- 2001- 2002- 2003- 2004- 2005- 2006- 2007- 2008- 2009- 2010- 2011- 2012-
                  01    02    03    04    05    06    07    08    09    10    11    12    13

                                        Source: NH Department of Education

What this means is that, for most of the past decade, Manchester’s ability to raise money
for public schools has not kept pace with the rest of the state, with less taxable property
available on a per-pupil basis from year to year.

Per-pupil spending
Spending on public education in New Hampshire has risen steadily over the past decade,
even as pupil numbers have declined. Total statewide recurring school expenditures11
rose from $2.05 billion in 2004-05 to $2.70 billion in 2012-13 for a roughly 32 percent
increase. Over the same period, total recurring school expenditures in Manchester
increased from $147.6 million to $173.7 million, an 18 percent increase.

Over the past decade, Manchester’s per-pupil spending has been among the lowest in the
state (Figure 11). In the 2012-13 school year, Manchester spent about $10,400 per pupil,
the fifth lowest figure in the state, and roughly $3,100 lower than the statewide per-pupil
amount.

11
  This amount does not include costs associated with facility construction of payments or principal on
bonds and notes.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                              18

        Figure 11: Manchester has among the lowest per-pupil spending levels in the state.
       (Each bar in chart represents one NH school district, and one bar for state average.)

                        Per-Pupil Spending, by district, 2012-2013
      35,000

      30,000

      25,000
                                             State average
      20,000

                  Manchester
      15,000

      10,000

       5,000

           -

                               Source: NH Department of Education

This is the result of a number of factors, including savings that come from being a
relatively compact, urban district with fewer costs associated with transportation and
maintenance than more geographically spread-out districts. However, Manchester’s per-
pupil spending trends have not been keeping pace with the rest of the state. Whereas in
2002-03, Manchester’s per-pupil spending represented 84 percent of the statewide
amount, it had fallen to 77 percent of the statewide per-pupil expenditure a decade later,
in 2012-13. In other words, the gap in per-pupil spending between Manchester and the
rest of New Hampshire has been increasing over time.

If we examine spending growth over time, per-pupil spending increased faster than
growth in total expenditures, for both New Hampshire and Manchester, because of the
drop in student numbers over that period. Statewide per-pupil spending rose 48 percent
from 2004-05 to 2012-13, while it rose 40 percent for Manchester (Figure 12).
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                         19

                    Figure 12: Per-pupil spending has increased at a faster rate
                   over the past decade for the state than for Manchester alone.

                      Per pupil spending, Manchester & NH, 2004-2012

      $16,000

      $14,000
                                            48% increase

      $12,000

      $10,000

       $8,000

                                               40% increase
       $6,000

                                            New Hampshire
       $4,000
                                            Manchester

       $2,000

          $0
                2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13

                              Source: NH Department of Education

What is driving this spending growth? The answer is not entirely clear. Part of it stems
from increasing personnel costs, including annual increases in salaries and benefits. In
addition, school costs will not necessarily fall at the same pace as enrollment, because
fixed costs do not fall on a per-pupil basis. As we have also previously noted, the district
and state have both seen increases in the number of low-income students, for whom there
is typically a higher cost associated when it comes to education.

While the bottom-line and per-pupil spending amounts give us a broad sense of spending
trends, we can also examine how spending is changing over time on particular programs.
Figure 13 below breaks out the two biggest categories of school spending – regular
education and special programs – which together account for nearly two-thirds of total
school expenditures. Special programs include instructional and other services for
populations such as English-language learners, students with disabilities, and Title 1
programs, which are targeted at districts with large populations of low-income students.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                                                               20

                                                 Figure 13: Spending on special programs has increased in Manchester schools
                                                             at a much faster rate than the rest of New Hampshire

                                                                Per Pupil Expenditures for NH and Manchester
                                                                              (Percent of Total)
                                                60%
                                                                                          NH, regular ed.
       Spending as pct. of total expenditures

                                                50%
                                                                   Manchester, regular ed.

                                                40%

                                                                Manchester, special programs
                                                30%

                                                20%
                                                                NH, spec. programs

                                                10%

                                                0%
                                                      2004-05   2005-06   2006-07   2007-08   2008-09   2009-10   2010-11   2011-12   2012-13

                                                                      Source: NH Department of Education

As Figure 13 above shows, while spending on regular education services (blue lines) has
remained the largest piece of overall spending over the past decade, it has decreased as a
percentage of spending in Manchester and for the state as a whole.

At the same time, the share of spending on special programs (pink lines) has increased at
both levels (statewide and Manchester alone), though at a much sharper rate for
Manchester. Spending on special programs now represents close to a third of all spending
(31 percent) in the district, compared to about 25 percent in 2004-05. This likely reflects
the growth in low-income students over the past decade, as measured by free-and-
reduced lunch enrollments, and is an illustration of the ways in which shifting student
demographics shape spending patterns. Given the steady increase in the number of free-
and-reduced lunch students, as well as the rise in births to single women on Medicaid
(detailed earlier), it is reasonable to expect that spending on special programs will
represent an increasingly large share of the total district budget in coming years.

Spending on special programs at the state level remained essentially flat over the same
period, going from 21 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2013.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                               21

Teacher salaries
Personnel costs (salaries and benefits) traditionally take up the largest single chunk of
education spending, though average annual salary for full-time classroom teachers has
been rising steadily at both the state level and in Manchester over the past decade (Figure
14).

                Figure 14: Average teacher salaries have risen faster in Manchester
                      over the past few years than for the statewide average.

                  Average teacher salary, Manchester & New Hampshire
                                  (2006-07 to 2013-14)
      $60,000

      $58,000

      $56,000              Manchester
                           New Hampshire
      $54,000

      $52,000

      $50,000

      $48,000

      $46,000

      $44,000

      $42,000

      $40,000
                2006-07   2007-08   2008-09   2009-10   2010-11   2011-12   2012-13   2013-14

                              Source: NH Department of Education

While the average salary for Manchester and for the state as a whole were roughly equal
through the decade of the 2000s, the figure for Manchester increased sharply in 2010-11,
roughly $2,000 higher than the statewide figure.

If we compare average teacher salary in Manchester with salaries from nearby districts
(with which the city would likely be competing for teachers and staff), we see that, in
general, Manchester is not out of line with its neighbors (Figure 15).

While the average teacher salary for Manchester in 2013-14 was above the average in
Nashua and Bedford, it was lower than the average in Concord, Salem, and Londonderry.
Manchester’s average salary has been in the middle of the pack of those districts over
much of the past eight years.
Manchester’s Education Benchmarks                                                                  22

          Figure 15: Average teacher salaries, Manchester and selected nearby districts
       $70,000
                      Manchester
                      New Hampshire
                      Bedford
                      Concord
                      Londonderry
       $60,000        Nashua
                      Salem

       $50,000

       $40,000
                 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14

Meanwhile, total district spending on salaries and benefits (including teachers,
administrators and other district personnel) has traditionally represented a larger portion
of total expenditures in Manchester than the state as a whole. As Table 3 shows, total
salaries and benefits spending has made up between 60 percent and 63 percent of total
spending in the district over the past seven years, with a slight increase in the past few
years.

Statewide, salaries and benefits account for between 52 percent and 53 percent of total
school spending.

    Table 3: Average teacher salaries and total salaries & benefits as a percentage of spending,
                                Manchester and New Hampshire
                                  Manchester                 New Hampshire
                                           Pct of            Avg.    Pct of
                             Avg. salary total exp.         salary total exp.
                 2006-07     $ 46,655        60.4%         $ 46,797    52.0%
                 2007-08     $ 48,348        60.0%         $ 48,310    52.2%
                 2008-09     $ 49,701        60.4%         $ 50,128    52.0%
                 2009-10     $ 50,998        61.7%         $ 51,443    52.5%
                 2010-11     $ 54,836        61.2%         $ 52,706    52.9%
                 2011-12     $ 57,349        62.5%         $ 53,702    53.0%
                 2012-13     $ 59,019        61.9%         $ 54,314    53.0%
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