Archives for category: High School Graduation

The virtual charter industry is anticipating growth in enrollments and profits, thanks to the pandemic.

The largest of the virtual charters is the K12 Inc. virtual charter chain, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, whose revenues exceeded $1 billion this year.

Executives haul in big salaries (one of K12’s founders, Ron Packard, was paid $5 million a year but has since moved on to lead other charter chains). Michael Milken was an early investor in K12 and Bill Bennett was a prominent leader until he made racist remarks that caused him to be removed.

The most important thing to know about virtual charter schools is that they have dismal track records. They enroll as many students as possible through heavy advertising and marketing, but their graduation rates are low, their test scores are low, and their attrition rates are high.

Numerous studies of virtual charter schools agree that their results are very poor. A CREDO study in 2015 concluded that students in virtual charters lose ground in reading and lose the equivalent of a year of instruction in math.

While findings vary for each student, the results in CREDO’s report show that the majority of online charter students had far weaker academic growth in both math and reading compared to their traditional public school peers. To conceptualize this shortfall, it would equate to a student losing 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days of learning in math, based on a 180-day school year. This pattern of weaker growth remained consistent across racial-ethnic subpopulations and students in poverty.

The studies of virtual schools by Gary Miron and his colleagues report graduation rates of about 50%, as compared to a graduation rate of 83% in traditional public schools, as well as low performance compared to regular public schools.

So, if you want virtual learning at home and you don’t care if your child actually learns anything, sign up.

Tom Ultican spent many years in Silicon Valley. Then he switched careers and became a teacher of advanced mathematics and physics. He frequently taught AP courses. He recently retired.

He explains in this article why he turned into a critic of AP classes. He engaged in a dialogue with Jay Mathews, the veteran education journalist at the Washington Post. Mathews creates a method for ranking high schools based in the proportion of students who took and passed AP courses.

Mathew’s methodology has now become the US News and World report ranking of “the best high schools” in the nation. Ultican shows why this list favors charter schools, which may have small numbers of graduates and high rates of attrition. It is biased against large high schools that educate all kinds of students, not just survivors.

It’s a great read.

Gary Rubinstein saw an article in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post claiming that 100% of the 98 students in the graduating class of Success Academy’s high school had been accepted into college.

Based on Success Academy’s long history of high attrition, he knew this claim was likely false.

So he checked and his hunch was right.

He asked:

Is 98 really all the students in the class of 2020?

The answer, of course is, ‘no.’ What the actual number is depends on how you define the class of 2020.

If you go back to a New York Post editorial from just six months ago, it begins with the sentence “Seniors at the Success Academy HS of the Liberal Arts just got their SAT scores — and all 114 did great, with an average score of 1268, 200 points above the national average.” So six months ago there were 114 seniors, which is 16 more than the 98 that are now called the ‘entire’ senior class. For Success Academy to lose roughly one-seventh of the students who were in the senior class just six months ago is stunning. These 16 students had been at the school since at least 3rd grade. Where did those 16 students go?

But if you look further back to the state data, you will find that the class of 2020 had 146 eleventh graders for the 2018-2019 school year. This means that they lost about 1/3 of the class of 2020 between then and now….

If you go back two more years to see where the class of 2020 was when they were in 9th grade you find that there were 191 students in the cohort back then. Also notice that when they were in 9th grade the boy/girl split of the 191 was about 50%/50% while when they were in 11th grade the boy/girl split of the 146 was 44%/56% in favor of the girls. We will have to wait until the official data comes out next year to see what the split was for the ‘entire’ 98 who graduated.

Rubinstein looks at the numbers all the way back to kindergarten and finds that only 28% of those who started Eva Moskowitz’s celebrated Success Academy made it to high school graduation. Way different than 100%.

Another great “success” for skimming, exclusion, and attrition.

Another landmark in the history of charter hype.

This review from the National Education Policy Center by William Mathis demolishes an absurd claim about the hypothetical economic benefits of expanding Wisconsin’s voucher program. The review is actually hilarious.

Mathis reviews a report by a voucher proponent published by a libertarian, pro-voucher thinky tank, claiming that expansion of the state’s voucher program would increase the number of college graduates, increase personal wealth, and add billions to the state’s coffers. The report relies on “peer-reviewed” studies by the same author, published in pro-choice, libertarian journals that support vouchers.

Mathis writes:

There exist countless articles on school choice, ranging from general interest publications to peer-reviewed professional articles in prestigious journals. Yet the limited references in this report are drawn from a narrow, non-representative slice of the field. Eleven of the 12 selections in the bibliography are drawn from raw data sources (e.g., the Bureau of Labor Statistics) or pro-school-choice articles. The one exception is the Brookings brief, which is the basis of the human-capital claims and numbers (i.e., the claimed benefits of moving an individual from a high school graduate to a college graduate).
Yet the report overtly appeals to the strength of peer-reviewed articles to buttress its claims (p. 7).

From page 2 of the report:

This study estimates the economic impact from expanding Wisconsin’s parental choice programs by using similar methods to previous studies, the first of which has already been published in a peer-reviewed journal (Flanders & DeAngelis 2018a; Flanders & DeAngelis 2018b; DeAngelis and Flanders 2019).

Note that all three pieces are co-authored by the author of the Ripple Effect. Looking at the report’s reference section, we find that these are cites not known to peer-reviewed publi- cations, but to Tennessee’s free-market Beacon Center, to something called “School Sys- tems Reform Studies,” and to the Mississippi State University Institute for Market Studies. Searching online, one finds that the School Systems Reform Studies piece was indeed sub- sequently published in the Journal of School Choice,5 a common venue for articles touting vouchers. The paper does later cite to a peer-reviewed article that offers some support for the claim that Milwaukee voucher students are more likely to graduate high school. How- ever, this study itself has some serious limitations. Fifty-six percent (56%) of the original
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/ripple-effect 6 of 12
sample were no longer enrolled in a voucher program by the time they should have been in the 12th grade. Furthermore, “Only one of the findings could be considered statistically significant at conventional levels.”

Mathis quite correctly points out that 56% of the students who enter voucher schools drop out before graduation and return to public schools, so the “higher” graduation rate from voucher schools consists of the 44% who survived.

This is a worthwhile read, if only for the laughs at the struggle of voucher proponents to ignore the multiple studies of the negative effects of vouchers from D.C., Louisiana, Indiana, and Ohio.

Leonie Haimson writes that the New York State Board of Regents (the state board of education) hired Achieve to review the evidence about the value of exit exams.

Achieve presented a report saying that 28 states require tests for high school graduation.

Haimson says that Achieve confused end-of-course exams with high-school graduation exams that students must pass to get a diploma. 

In 2003, 30 states had exit exams, but most of them dropped them. Today, only 12 states still have exit exams.

Haimson writes:

When challenged on Twitter about the disparity in their figures compared to other sources, Achieve responded that they “define them [exit exams] as assessments that matter for students – impacting course grades or graduation.”  Yet to conflate states that require students to pass a test to graduate from high school with those that assign ordinary end of course exams is extremely misleading.

The trend, she says, is against high-stakes exit exams.

Gary Rubinstein read a story in the local Rupert Murdoch newspaper saluting Eva Moskowitz’s charter chain for its high SAT scores, but then noticed how many students were in the senior class. (Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch is a multimillion-dollar donor to the  Success Academy charter chain.)

What school advertises its SAT scores? Success Academy!

Gary noticed that of the students who started in second grade, nearly 70% did not make it to the senior year.

He writes:

The New York Post recently ran an editorial about the SAT scores of the Success Academy senior class of 2020.  Of all the different numbers they referenced, one that I took note of was 114 — the apparent number of students in the senior class.

The class of 2020 is the third graduating class of Success Academy.  The class of 2018 had 17 seniors out of a cohort of 73 first graders in 2006-2007.  The class of 2019 had 26 seniors out of a cohort of 83 kindergartners in 2006-2007.  Some of the class of 2019 were students who had been held back from the class of 2018 — probably in a comparable number to the number of 2019 students who will graduate this year.  So the 26 out of 83, or 31% persistence rate probably accounts for students who take an extra year to graduate.

For the class of 2020, things get a bit more complicated since in 2008 Success Academy did its first expansion and grew from one school, now called Harlem 1, into four schools now including Harlem 2, Harlem 3, and Harlem 4.  Some of the past records are incomplete for these schools, but when the 2020 cohort was in 2nd grade in 2009-2010, I find that there was a combined 353 students in the cohort.  By 6th grade, they were down to 263 students and by 9th grade it was 191.  In 10th grade they were 161 students and in 11th grade, 146.  And now, according to the New York Post article based on a Success Academy press release, they have 114 seniors.  So only 32% of the students who were there in second grade made it through their program.

Better test scores through attrition, a surefire formula for success!

I have had a long-running exchange with a wealthy pundit who gives six-figure amounts to Success Academy. He says they have found the secret sauce for educating all children in the New York City public schools, and for all schools everywhere. I ask him what should be done about the majority of students they accept who don’t survive. He seems to think they don’t matter. Only the strong survive. Or deserve to survive.

Marc Mannella opened the first KIPP middle school in Philadelphia in 2003.

He started with 90 students in fifth grade.

KIPP promised that students who stuck with the “no-excuses” regimen would go to college.

Avi Wolfman-Arent of WHYY in Philadelphia tracked down 33 of those students to find out what happened to them.

The former KIPPsters are now about 25.

Of the 90, 25 dropped out in the first year of middle school.

The students entered a world of incentives and punishments, of strict rules administered strictly.

It wasn’t right for everyone.

Of the 90 students who enrolled in KIPP Philly’s first middle school class, about half were boys. By the time 8th grade graduation arrived, enrollment was whittled down to 34 students — and only 11 boys remained….

Almost none of the KIPP alumni we interviewed did four years at one high school followed by four years at one college. All of them seemed to flounder or grow restless or get sidetracked somewhere along the journey up that mountain.

KIPP propelled them to high school — usually a Catholic school or a private school or a magnet school — but they didn’t stick there. KIPP’s lessons didn’t always follow them out the door…

Here’s what the numbers say.

Six years after high school graduation, 35 percent of the original KIPP Philly class had an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. At the seven-year mark, that number was 44 percent.

What does that mean?

In Philadelphia, about a quarter of students who graduate high school earn a college degree by the six-year mark. That overall Philly number would be lower if you tracked students back to eighth grade, like KIPP does.

There’s a prominent nationwide study that tracked students starting in 10th grade.

It found that eight years after high school graduation, about 14 percent of students from the lowest income quartile had a degree.

KIPP Philly students almost all came from poor neighborhoods, and the results suggest that they earned degrees at much higher rates — rates that are about the same as middle-income students.

“And that feels like we did something that was real,” said Mannella, the school’s founder.

There are serious caveats, though.

KIPP’s number doesn’t count all the kids who left over those four years. Some of those kids did graduate college. Some didn’t. It’s quite possible that the 34 who made it through KIPP were more likely to have long-term academic success for a whole host of reasons, no matter what school they attended.
Frankly this project is incomplete, too.

We talked with 24 of the 34 alum from the original class — as well as nine students who attended KIPP Philadelphia but didn’t finish. The ten graduates who chose not to talk may have very different experiences than the 24 who did

The author wonders what is the best way to evaluate KIPP. Graduation rates? College entry? College persistence? Employment?

KIPP is now the largest charter chain in the nation.

One thing we learn from this piece is that its strict discipline code helps some students, turns off others.

Its methods are not a panacea. Most kids who enter do not persist. For some, it is a lifesaver.

Perhaps the same might be said of the public schools that were closed to make way for KIPP and the public schools that accepted the KIPP dropouts and pushouts.

 

In this post, Mercedes Schneider tries to untangle the mess created by lack of oversight in all-charter New Orleans. 

She begins:

In all-charter New Orleans, New Beginnings Schools Foundation (NBSF) operates three charter schools in New Orleans, one of which is John F. Kennedy High School.

Kennedy is in the throes of an astounding fraud which resulted in almost 50 percent of its Class of 2019 being found to not have actually met state requirements for graduation. As a result, 87 out of 177 students who were allowed to participate in a graduation ceremony and who thought that they would receive diplomas discovered that they would not be receiving diplomas after all. In an effort to mop up this mess, the NBSF board offered post-haste summer school as an option that 53 of the affected seniors participated in. Mind you, this last-minute, thrown-together clean up effort put students who had been offered scholarships at a critical disadvantage because official, complete, state-approved high school transcripts were not available in May 2019, when the students supposedly/legitimately graduated.

It is now August 2019;  college/universty fall classes will soon begin, and the Kennedy seniors who participated in the alleged summer-school fixer still have not received copies of their transcripts. (For the extensive backstory and continuing saga, see here and here and here and here and here and here.)

On August 06, 2019, Nola.com reported on Kennedy student and parent efforts to require release of student transcripts via court order.

What is of particular importance in this all-charter arrangement is the fact that the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) (ironically renamed NOLA Public Schools) has no direct authority over those “public” schools to require the schools to release the transcripts. In this “portfolio model,” the school board is left out of any authority over ensuring school data integrity; the charter school deals directly with the state in delivering data, which is part of the problem since the state apparently had no controls in place to audit charter school grading practices.

The district was left out of Kennedy’s grading processes until a whistleblower brought the fraud to district attention, and then the district requested a state audit of all charter high school grading practices.

What comes through loud and clear is that any accountability depends of whistleblowers. The data mean nothing because they are generated by charter schools that are trying to create impressive records, even though fraudulent.

 

Mercedes Schneider reports a welcome development in New Orleans: in the wake of a grade-fixing scandal, all student records will be audited.

As she says, it is about time. After so much boasting from NOLA, it’s time to check the facts.

She writes:

This is a long time coming.

As a result of the grade-fixing scandal at a New Orleans charter high school– a scandal that resulted in 49 percent of the school’s Class of 2019 being found to lack credits and/or exit exam scores– Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) superintendent, Henderson Lewis, vows a criminal investigation of that school, Kennedy High School (operated by New Beginnings Schools Foundation) as well as an audit of student records for students attending New Orleans high schools.

 

 

 

This is a story about a high school in Missouri that should have been on the U.S. News list of the best high schools in America. The teachers are dedicated. Many of the kids are beating the odds against them. They are hard-working. They have grit and perseverance. They will make great contributions to society.

Ray Hartmann of the Riverfront Times tells an inspiring story of students, teachers, and administrators at Normandy High School who are succeeding despite the mainstream narrative that writes them off.

Ninety-seven percent of its students are black, and a stunning 92 percent of the 3,100 kids residing in the district’s 23 municipalities are poor enough to qualify for free and reduced student lunches. The median household income in the district is $30,100, and the median home value is $69,700.

Perhaps even more daunting…the district has a 40 percent “mobility rate.” That means, unlike your Claytons and Ladues, nearly half of the kids in the district are either homeless or moving between homes in the school year.

Many people look at these numbers, writes Hartmann, and think “failing school.” But when he visited, he saw a different story.

He saw teachers who care about students, and students who are proud of their school.

He attended graduation ceremonies and wrote about two students.

Meet Kayvion Calvert, one of the privileged few. Thanks to his own initiative — and to the fact that he went to a high school that cared about him and afforded him the chance to make the most of his abilities — Kayvion is off to Alabama A&M University to major in political science and minor in secondary education, with a résumé that’s almost ridiculously impressive.

He was class president as a senior, serving all four years in student government. He was also a four-year member of the school choir, a passion he pursued while singing in both the choir at his church and another one in the community, as well as acting in drama club productions.

Obviously, Kayvion Calvert is not your average kid. And, admittedly, maybe it helped that he didn’t come from just any public school district.

Then there’s Gabrielle Brown, Kayvion’s classmate. She was class valedictorian, with a GPA of 3.96. But, in fairness, she too was a bit privileged: Not only did her high school launch her to a college scholarship in computer science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, but it provided an opportunity to supplement her high school studies in an associate degree program at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley.

So, in addition to graduating as class valedictorian, Gabrielle is already a member of the Phi Theta Kappa college honor society, which honors students at two-year colleges. She was also a member of the high school band. And she had an internship at Centene.

You could forgive Gabrielle if she were a little boastful about all this. But she’s not, deflecting credit to the fact that she was one of the fortunate ones who attended a high school that, in an email, she termed “a critical factor” in her success.

“At my school, you establish so many connections and develop so many relationships, you meet people from so many diverse backgrounds it’s honestly astonishing,” she wrote. “The people you meet don’t just fade out of your life, either. They are present and encourage you [to] continue on your road of success.

“When I was little, going to my elementary school as a child, they had programs to help children succeed. Whether the child was advanced or a little behind, they are capable of supporting children on a more personal level and really connect with them. They influenced me to become the person I am today, and I intend to continue giving back.”

That’s not your everyday loyalty from a high school student. But kids like Gabrielle and Kayvion didn’t go to your everyday privileged high school.

No, they graduated from Normandy. Yes, the same Normandy Schools Collaborative often presented as the symbol of all that’s wrong with public education in St. Louis and the nation.

Why isn’t this heroic school on the U.S. News list as one of the best high schools in the nation, instead of all those public schools in affluent neighborhoods and charter schools that cherrypick their students?