Gary Rubinstein has a well established reputation as a careful investigator of miracle schools. On many occasions, he has debunked miracle claims. See his wiki site here.

In this post, he takes a close look at the scores of Success Academy on the new Common Core tests.

I don’t think Gary would classify the Success Academy schools as “miracle schools,” because they don’t have the same demographic profile of nearby public schools, but their scores on the recent Common Core were nonetheless impressive.

Gary notes that some of the schools are K-3 and tested only third grade. Some of the newspapers printed misleading stories about the success of the school based only on one grade.

He also notes a high attrition rate among students and teachers.

But with all those caveats, Success Academy has succeeded in outpacing most of the city schools.

He speculates that this might set off a civil war among the charters because some of the others that boast of their success–notably, KIPP and Democracy Prep–got low scores and performed below the average for public schools.

He writes:

In general, these good test scores, I think, should make the ‘reformers’ more nervous than elated.  From my perspective, I don’t think that the scores are devastating to my cause.  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.

And what ‘excuse’ is there for these other 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.  I wonder if this could start some kind of charter civil war.