The call for data in the charter school conversation below has been answered, in part at least, by a reader who sends in the attached spreadsheet showing test score data for all schools for 2007. Isat_all_schools_2007_by_grade_level.xls
This information and much more is all publicly available on the REA website at http://research.cps.k12.il.us/ under the tab 'School and Citywide Reports'.
October 19, 2007 at 10:31 AM
Thanks for the data. Based on this information, KIPP Ascend and Learn Charter are getting phenomenal results. However, they also seem to be experiencing extremely high attrition as students progress through the schools.
Here are the number of students administered the 2007 ISAT reading test by grade at the two schools:
Third Grade - 64 students
Fourth Grade - 56 students
Fifth Grade - 22 students
Sixth Grade - 12 students
Seventh Grade - 12 students
Eighth Grade - 14 students
Fifth Grade - 95 students
Sixth Grade - 82 students
Seventh Grade - 61 students
Eighth Grade - 52 students
What is going on here? Do these charters restrict new enrollment to the lowest grade level at the school? If a student leaves between the seventh and eighth grade, doesn’t that open up a slot for a new eighth grader to enroll (based on a lottery)?
Charter schools are intended to provide parents with choice. It appears that an extremely large number of parents who enroll their students at these two charters are choosing to withdraw them before they graduate. Given the schools’ extraordinary ISAT scores, particularly in comparison to other area schools, why would parents make this seemingly irrational choice?
Can someone help me understand? I’m confused.
October 19, 2007 at 07:11 PM
Did you see the test scores for the UNO schools!!! The Casas school looks like it scored the highest composite of the new schools opened in fall of '06. I visited the school last fall and met the school's director. He and his staff were doing great work, and the test scores show it. I hope I am able to visit him again soon to tour the school and see how things are progressing. Great work!!!
October 19, 2007 at 07:39 PM
The Casas director does appear to have a great program! Check out the sizes of the classes tested at Casas: 13 third graders, 12 fourth graders and 11 fifth graders. I wish the Board would fund similar student-to-teacher ratios at a neighborhood school. Oh, I forgot…we’ve passed the 20th day.
October 19, 2007 at 08:05 PM
You know what!
I teach more students in one day by myself than that whole Learn Charter tested!
I have 215 kids plus 28 division students on my roster each day plus I do an after school program with 40 more kids.
You got to be kidding with those numbers I could get a rat to get a perfect score on any test.
October 19, 2007 at 10:31 PM
They kick out the kids who will score low before testing.
The reason 3rd grade population is larger is because they don't know what they'll get, after they find out the kid gets the boot!
October 19, 2007 at 11:15 PM
I wouldn't trust anything published by REA!
October 19, 2007 at 11:16 PM
All this data and yet -
"According to CPS Spokesperson Malon Edwards, data comparing Ren Ten school performance to traditional schools does not yet exist."
Check out the Charter PR piece in the Chicago Defender at
An organization called "Parents for School Choice?" Where does this group get its funding?
October 20, 2007 at 12:16 AM
LEARN Charter is pulling a scam, and yet they were just awarded two new schools by the Office of New Schools – one in West Garfield and one in North Lawndale, at sites “yet to be determined.” Say goodbye to two neighborhood schools, and make way for two new miracles.
Unfortunately, the data shows there are no miracles, only tricks.
October 20, 2007 at 07:55 AM
The rates of students below the poverty level at KIPP and LEARN is similar to neighborhood schools (80-90%). People who are low-income tend to move more often than others. The student attrition rates at KIPP and LEARN are actually similar the neighborhood schools in North Lawndale: between 25 and 30%. The difference is that the schools do not replace students that leave and it makes sense.
Students at these two schools spend much more time in class than CPS kids. In fact, if you do the math, at the end of their 8th grade year, students at the schools have spent as much time in school as CPS 11th graders.
Rather than adding CPS 8th grade students who are on average 2-4 grades behind into a class that is 2-3 grade levels above grade level (where they would not get instruction at their level), these schools have chosen to not replace students that leave. They simply keep the students that they started with. They are allowed to set their enrollment numbers as charters.
These two schools are doing amazing work. You should go visit them. Alain Locke is also doing tremendously well on the West side. The exceptional results of these schools cannot be explained by attrition levels that are similar to neighborhood schools. Rather than continually looking for a way that these schools are somehow doing things that are not fair, you should visit them. LEARN has an open house this Thursday morning.
October 20, 2007 at 01:07 PM
Well...my neighborhood school has looked closely at our ISAT data and found that among the students that stay at our school from kindergarten through eighth grade, almost ALL of them meet or exceed the standards in reading and math by around the fifth or sixth grade. What pulls down the school's scores is the students who transfer into the school later in their elementary school career.
So, it appears KIPP and LEARN are doing nothing better than my school. Why then should I visit them to learn about the type of amazing work I am already doing?
If I really wanted to compete with KIPP and LEARN, I would pressure the Board to allow our school to implement the truly amazing strategy these charters have adopted -- banning all transfers into my school. However, since I believe in a quality public education for ALL students, even those who are too poor to have stable housing, I would never advocate such an approach, or work for a school that implemented such a policy.
October 20, 2007 at 01:50 PM
"Rather than adding CPS 8th grade students who are on average 2-4 grades behind into a class that is 2-3 grade levels above grade level (where they would not get instruction at their level), these schools have chosen to not replace students that leave."
Teachers at KIPP and LEARN don't know how to provide "differentiated instruction?" Maybe they should visit a neighborhood school.
October 20, 2007 at 01:58 PM
We do this all the time. I teach 7th grade. I got 3 tranfers in this September. One is at 5th grade level and the other two are at 3rd. Its ridiculous that these charterss are actually compared to real schools.
October 20, 2007 at 05:05 PM
I am still getting transfers in now in October.
Differentiation: I have 2nd grade level all they way up to 12th grade levels in one room of 35. Including criminals and students "We can not throw out because they are Special Ed"
I wonder what would happen to the Charter numbers even with only one of my classes of students. Yes I mean one of my classes of students from the high school put them in a Charter a see what happens.
October 21, 2007 at 12:15 AM
As I posted earlier (in a post that apparently was disappeared), the problems noted above with KIPP (and apparently the same ones with LEARN) have already been exposed in California and other places.
Despite the KIPP propaganda machine (usually posing as reporting, but in reality hagiography which simply recycles the same talking points and dog-eared clip files), the KIPP tricks have long been noted, discussed, and exposed. Given the longer hours children and teachers work at KIPP schools, it's ironic that the scores are not really better than regular public schools, but once you've adjusted for the subtraction of "failing" (i.e., low scoring) children after about second grade, just about all the KIPP schools reflect the same pattern shown here. Of course, it's one of the reasons KIPP dislikes transparency, preferring instead the endless repetition of its general narrative line without too close a look at the facts.
During the past two years, KIPP has been analyzed on Jerry Bracey's EDDRA list serve at great length. There have also been regular exposes about KIPP's methods of achieving "bottom line success" on the ARN (Assessment Reform Network) ListServe sponsored by Fair Test. This method has been known to test auditors for a long long long time and only works in systems where audits are forbidden or denied to the public (as with Chicago's charter schools).
Other tricks for improving the "bottom line" include coaching for the tests (e.g., drilling vocabulary words that you are certain will appear on the tests), teaching to the tests (using stolen copies of the tests obtained beforehand), adding time on test day (at one CPS school, they actually stopped all the clocks in the building one year to acieve this!), and "completing" the answer sheets before they are turned in for scoring (this requires a group effort, which can be done when the principal is tyrannical enough and the stakes high enough).
Any of these is easy enough to determine, then expose, with patience and acess to all the information. But if the system itself is vested in miraculous improvements in the "bottom line", then you get the "Sunbeam Effect" (after Al Dunlap's accounting tricks to goose up the bottom line at Sunbeam while he was performing miracles there). No audits = no cheating.
George Schmidt |
October 21, 2007 at 04:08 AM
Just a cool note. That spreadsheet has more than 20,000 lines. And of course that's only data from the 2007 ISAT. Anyone have the 2007 PSAE yet to post here, too? I'm curoous, for example, how Mirta Ramirez did its miracle for the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades at the old factory. Any guesses?
George Schmidt |
October 22, 2007 at 07:06 AM
So KIPP Ascend shows impressive results and they are automatically cheating. I guess teacher bashing is ok when those teachers are non-union charter school teachers, huh? Would you be making the same baseless accusations if theses were union member teachers? I doubt it.
The fact is those test scores are pretty darn impressive and show how KIPP is growing students over time. Of course we all know that the 8th grade math is the easiest test on in the whole ISAT, but I don't see a whole of schools with 100% of their students meeting or exceeding standards on that test.
Having observed at a couple of KIPP schools across the country I can tell you right now that they are not some cookie cutter, Starbucks on every corner, chain charter school. They might all use some of the same slogans and similar general philosophies, but I've seen those interpreted in different ways at all five of the KIPP schools I've visited.
October 22, 2007 at 10:11 AM
Differentiated teaching is often a joke. What it usually means is that the teacher teaches to the middle, gives extra attention to the behind students and the bright ones are left to their own devices or even worse, pressured into tutoring the behind students. There is no way that a class should have students straddling from 2nd grade level to 12th. No teacher can competently teach such a wide range of abilities without at least 2 aides, and even then I'm not so sure.
October 22, 2007 at 11:16 AM
I don't think KIPP or LEARN are "cheating." But there is no doubt that they are using an approach that cannot be expanded to all schools. Refusing to except transfers or replace students who leave before graduation is an approach that skews scores upwards, and cannot be expanded on a large scale as an approach to school reform. To me, it seems like a form of gaming the system to achieve "impressive" results. It certainly undermines their argument that they are introducing an innovative form of instruction. Instead, they are controlling their student population in an unusual way, and as a result getting unusual results.
Sorry, but I don't have much sympathy for charter school teachers as victims of teacher bashing since the entire existence of charters is predicated on the assertion that the teachers in neighborhood schools are failures.
October 22, 2007 at 10:00 PM
You state that "differentiated teaching is often a joke." What is your sample set for making this generalization? Is it your experience, in your classroom, that you have expanded to the entire educational universe? Or, do you have a much larger sample?
I know differentiated instruction works in MY classroom, but certainly not with the range of students you describe. I have some students working a couple of years below level, and a few above level. I DON'T teach to the middle. We have some common activities, but the upper level is not pressed into service as tutors for the students on the bottom. In my elementary school classroom, differentiated instruction works. And I've seen it work and fail in other classrooms.
I certainly don't believe that differentiated instruction couldn't work in many instances in urban schools, and I don't think the supposed failure of differentiated instruction justifies the admission practices of KIPP and LEARN charters.
October 22, 2007 at 10:12 PM
It was Kugler who stated that he had students ranging from 2nd through 12th grade of ability. I believe he teaches shop classes, which must be even harder because they tend to be less structured (students have to do their projects after all) and obviously dangerous tools are going to be necessary (unless he teaches drafting--though one of the worst work injuries I ever got was from a protractor that slipped and impaled my hand).
My sample set is from my experiences as a student and from reading and hearing about the experiences of other people as students. Also the occasional radio segment on NPR about schools.
I distinctly remembered being bored silly while the instructor went over the material 2 or 3 times because some of the slow students couldn't grasp it. It was frustrating and left me with a bit of bitterness toward an educational system that so ignored the range of abilities and talents. I was in that bubble of time where they had stopped officially tracking students by ability and then I was still in high school when they started re-doing it by other means (honors programs, remedial courses...).
October 23, 2007 at 01:34 PM
The Teachers at charter schools aren't our enemies, we are all teachers and colleagues.
Nobody hates what is the message behind the charter school/Ren10 movement in CPS, and that is that public education is a failure because of poor teaching, bad practices, no innovation, etc.
That is a BS lie!
Schools fail because of the problems within the system, inequity, lack of funds, overburdening staff (and administration), central office red tape, IMPACT, etc.
Those teachers in charters are just trying to do their job, and teachers are trying to work where ever they can.
Charter holders, the political buddies of Arne, Vitale and the rest of hizzonner's posse are the problem.
They screw the system without a rubber and then claim that it's diseased!
October 23, 2007 at 06:20 PM
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