Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rubinstein: Success Academy Scores Based on High Attrition Plus Other Factors

I wonder if this could start some kind of charter civil war. What ‘excuse’ is there for these other [charter] schools?  Surely behind closed doors they are accusing Success of some kind of manipulation, either by extensive test prep or by booting even more kids than they do. ... Gary Rubinstein
Gary Rubinstein follows up on his analysis of charter school chains like KIPP and Democracy Prep catastrophic test results with analysis of the one charter chain that blew everyone away. We posted commentary on Gary's previous post: Can We Close the Achievement Gap Between Success Academy and Democracy Prep, KIPP et al?

I loved that Success showed up the other charters as that brings the kind of scrutiny Gary provides as he does with all "miracle" schools. I left this comment on his blog:
We can certainly support the idea of 2 teachers in a room and that makes any comparison with public schools faulty. When you add the “disappeared” who most likely end up in public schools, the SA results don’t look so good given the different climate. So they have money to do this, often due to working young teachers to a bone and replacing them when worn out. Yes, cheap labor with 12 hour days and few career teachers. In no way scalable and over the long run as SA expands to 40 schools even sustainable. Watch the numbers as they get to higher grades. And the point that there is so much demand is bogus as we’ve been saying all along.
Yes, I absolutely support the idea of 2 teachers in a class in early grades -- actually, that is the private school model where they put novice teachers in with an experienced one. Great idea but not one that Eva really calls for in all public schools. Too bad because if she did she would not be as evil. But her aim is to undermine, not support public schools.

Gary makes these points:
I don’t think they really prove that there are super teachers out there who can get the ‘same kids’ to excel, even if it is just on standardized tests, since I’m not convinced they are truly the ‘same kids.’  But the ‘reformers’ should be very careful about this.  They already had Success as a big success story, as well as a bunch of others like KIPP and Democracy Prep.  Now they still have Success, but they have lost some of their schools they used to take credit for.  I’m not sure how they can reconcile their idea that test scores are an accurate measure of school quality with the fact that many of the schools they have been touting have lost their luster by that measure.
Here Gary looks at the key attrition rates.
So the next thing I looked at was their student attrition.  If they ‘lost’ many students, these scores are tainted.  Now there is only one Success school that has been around since 2007.  That school started with 83 kindergarteners and 73 first graders.  Those cohorts just tested in 6th and 7th grade, respectively.  The school has ‘lost’ a big chunk of those original 156 kids.  Of those 73 first graders in 2007, only 35 took the seventh grade test.  Of the 83 kindergarteners, only 47 took the sixth grade test last spring.  Overall, they have ‘lost’ 47% of the original two cohorts.  If this is one of the costs of having such high test scores, I’m not sure if it is worth it.
For the four cohorts that just took the fourth grade tests, those 316 students were, back in 2009, 443 kindergarteners, so they have ‘lost’ 29% of those cohorts.  Now their high test scores aren’t completely explained by this nearly 30% attrition rate, but it is still something worth noting as we consider if this program is ‘scalable’ or not.
 And talks about the teacher attrition rates:
When a school is ‘healthy,’ teacher are happy there and want to stay there.  The Success schools are known to have huge attrition of teachers, in the neighborhood of 50% per year. 
When push comes to shove, Success Academy will prove to be just another scam charter. Would NYC charter chief James Merriman send his kids there? Maybe he would given that Eva is abandoning the poor kids for the rich ones in Manhattan and gentrified areas of Brooklyn.

Read his entire piece.

And Perdido Street School too.
Just How Did They Get To Be So Successful At Succe...

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