Archives for category: High School Graduation

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?

 

 

Chalkbeat’s Philissa Cramer reports that Betty Rosa, Chancellor of the New York Board of Regents, wrote that it is time to reconsider the Regents exams.  

Students must pass five Regents exams to graduate high school.

New York is one of only 11 states with high school exit exams.

Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa published a column in an online newspaperaccessible to members of the New York State School Boards Association suggesting that the state could one day do away with the graduation tests it has used since the mid-1800’s.

“Regents exams have been the gold standard for over a century – and with good reason,” Rosa wrote in February. “But our systems must be continually reviewed, renewed, and occasionally revised in order to best serve our students and the people of this great state….

The column laid out no timeline for possible changes. (State education officials did not answer additional questions.) Rosa wrote that she would ask the two-year-old Regents Research Work Group, launched to identify ways to diversify New York schools, to study the state’s graduation requirements. Part of the group’s charge, she said, would be to “examine current research and practice to determine … whether state exit exams improve student achievement, graduation rates, and college readiness.”

The research on that point is clear. As Matt Barnum reported in 2016, studies have found that graduation tests do not result in better-prepared graduates and actually harm some students, especially low-income students of color.

For much of their history, the Regents exams were intended for the college-bound. Students who did not take the Regents exams could graduate by taking a competency test of basic skills. In 1996, State Commissioner Richard Mills pushed through the idea that all high school students should be required to pass the Regents exams. He and the Board of Regents assumed that setting the bar higher would raise achievement for all.

Once a mark of distinction, the Regents exams were watered down when they became a universal requirement.

A single standard for all will never be a high standard. The failure rate would be politically intolerable.

 

 

This is the last of the podcasts that Gary Rubinstein reviews. There’s dissent in the high school. The students rebel against the discipline. Most teachers bail out.

But graduation comes at last. Of the 73 students who started, 16 graduates made it. It annoys Gary that the interviewer tiptoes around the issue of attrition. Senior year started with 17 students. One mysteriously disappeared. 16 survived the Success Academy boot camp.

The 2019 graduating class consists of 26 students. The president of Harvard University will deliver the commencement address to this tiny cohort, a sign of Eva’s power, money, and connections.

These 26 students are the survivors of a class that originally included 83 students. Eighty percent of the graduates are females.

But there is progress: the first graduating class was 16 of 73. The second was 26 of 83.

No one seems to wonder what happened to those that didn’t make it to graduation.

Has Eva created a template for American public education?

To see all of Gary’s posts on this topic, here they are.

 

This is a story that made me happy. I graduated from a non-selective, open admissions public high school in Houston. It was untracked (but unfortunately it was racially segregated like all schools in Houston because I graduated in 1956). I never heard of selective admissions until I came to New York City. Or tracking or magnet schools (which were originally designed to promote racial integration, not as havens for white students).

Matt Barnum writes about studies showing that it really doesn’t matter whether a student goes to a selective high school.

“Studies looking at the test-in schools in those cities and in Chicago have found that students receive little if any measurable benefit from attending them. Students with similar qualifications who attend high school elsewhere end up with comparable SAT scores and college admissions offers, they find.

“There is perhaps too much attention on these test schools as if they’re lifesavers, and we have evidence that maybe they’re not,” said Tomas Monarrez, who studies segregation at the Urban Institute….

”In a 2014 study titled “The Elite Illusion,” Pathak and other researchers compared students who just made the cut to attend a test-in school in Boston or New York City and similar students who fell just short. (Notably, the Boston schools, unlike New York City’s, don’t rely exclusively on test scores for admissions decisions.)

“The difference in test scores, including on the SAT and Advanced Placement exams, between the two groups was largely nonexistent.

“Perhaps more important to parents and students is whether attending one of those household-name schools helps kids get into a better college. The answer, according to a separate study focusing on New York City’s specialized high school graduates between 1994 and 2013, is not really.

“There was no evidence that those students were more likely to enroll in college, complete college, or attend an especially elite institution than comparable students who went to high school elsewhere. There was also little difference between students who just missed the cutoff for Stuyvesant but got into another of the test-in schools, like Bronx Science.

“The Boston study came to similar conclusions.

“In some cases, there were even negative effects: Students who just made it into Brooklyn Tech were actually 2 percentage points less likely to graduate from a four-year college as a result….

”The many clubs and activities found at some exam schools may expose students to ideas and concepts not easily captured by achievement tests or our post-secondary outcomes,” wrote the Boston and New York City researchers.

“That idea strengthens the case for adjusting the selection process to admit more black and Hispanic students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to those resources.

“It is still important to try to open the door of these schools,” The Urban Institute’s Monarrez said. “But perhaps [we should] just not think of these schools as the best and only answer to these problems.”