Gary Rubinstein has a peculiar habit of insisting on integrity of reporting. He gets hot and bothered when people claim “miracle achievements” but hide the facts or distort them.

He noticed an article in USA Today that both appeared to criticize charter schools and at the same time to claim that some of them had achieved astonishing college graduation results.

The bottom line, said USA Today, was that many charter school students don’t make it through college. But, it also said, their college graduation rate is far higher than that of comparable low-income students.

Gary did an inquiry, and he learned that the writer of the article–as is typical–did not take the charters’ high attrition rates into account.

So, in the end, the article was another phony claim about the “success” of charter schools, when that “success” depends on shedding large numbers of students.

The star example: Democracy Prep in New York.

In 2006-07, it had a class of 131 students in 6th grade.

New York State has a pretty good public data system, so I investigated the numbers for Democracy Prep’s first cohort, the ones that 87.5% of their graduates are on track to graduate from college. What I found was that in 2006-2007, they had 131 6th graders. According to their testing data from that year where 127 students were tested, there were 63 girls and 64 boys tested. Also, of the 131 students, 80% were Black while 20% were Latino.

But look at their graduation class:

Six years later they had 50 12th graders. This represents just 38% of the original 131 students. Of those 50, 13 were boys and 37 were girls. So they went from 50% boys to 33% boys. Also of their 50 students, they went from 80% Black in 2006 to 66% Black in 2013.

Amazing: 87.5% finished college of those who survived. Not exactly an advertisement for the miracle of charter schools.

As Gary’s article is titled: Charter School With 38% High School Completion Rate Brags About 88% College Completion Rate In USA Today