Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The never-ending shell game of the left behind.

Over at Schools Matter Jim Horn reports what he learned from the new study of KIPP charter schools. It's kinda the same as what we know about the worst traditional public schools. The poorest public school students get passed around. The poorest charter schools students get tossed.

Since KIPP’s high test scores have been acknowledged even by its harshest critics, Horn wonders what the study tells us about the schools that didn't make the headlines.

We find out that KIPP schools have higher levels of grade repetition, i.e., failures, than the public schools. In the 22 fifth grade cohorts, for instance, the average failure rated was 9.5 percent, ranging from as low as 2% and as high as 18%. In public schools, repeaters in 5th grade ranged from 0% to 3%, with an average of 1.7 percent. In 6th grade KIPPs, these numbers were slightly lower but still much higher than their public counterparts.

We find out that KIPPs are more segregated than demographically matched public schools, ranging from 5 to 50 percent more segregated. Twenty of 22 of the KIPPs were significantly more segregated (pp. 2-3).

We find out that 12 of 22 schools had lower, significantly lower percentages of special education students, with only one significantly higher.

We find out that 13 of 17 schools had significantly lower percentages of English language learners, and only two with higher percentages (pp. 12-13)

The folks at Education in the Public Interest reported problems with the study's methodology.

...A key finding of the study is that attrition at KIPP schools is not much different from attrition at comparable conventional public schools. This finding is important because past research about KIPP suggests that selective attrition - struggling students disproportionately leaving, with more successful students staying and then scoring well on tests - may give KIPP a substantial boost.

However, an initial analysis of the report by Professor Gary Miron of Western Michigan University concludes that this initial study report misrepresents the attrition data. According to Miron, "While it may be true that attrition rates for KIPP schools and surrounding districts are similar, there is a big difference: KIPP does not generally fill empty places with the weaker students who are moving from school to school. Traditional public schools must receive all students who wish to attend, so the lower-performing students leaving KIPP schools receive a place in those schools."

In contrast, Miron explains, "The lower performing, transient students coming from traditional public schools are not given a place in KIPP, since those schools generally only take students in during the initial intake grade, whether this be 5th or 6th

The KIPP study's description of attrition only considers half the equation, when comparing KIPP schools to matched traditional public schools...

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