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Student Attrition And "Backfilling" At Success Academy Charter Schools: What Student Enrollment Patterns Tell Us


Thank you for doing this research. However, one year's attrition data isn't as illuminating as a longitudinal study of what happens to the students who win the lottery for Kindergarten over the years in Success Academy schools. Just looking at a single year's attrition rate doesn't tell you much -- by the time the students get to 3rd grade many of the at-risk kids may have been replaced by children who are already working at grade level. Remember that the parent at the recent Success Academy press conference described how his child won a lottery spot for 2nd or 3rd grade and was told -- after being tested -- that she could only come to Success Academy if she repeated a year. (That child turned out to be gifted!) But imagine how easy it is to dissuade a parent of a "not up to snuff" child from coming by telling them their child couldn't join the grade he won the lottery for but could only enter the school if the parent agreed to repeat a year (or even two if they really don't want the kid!) as a condition of attending their school. A NY 1 news piece told the story of one girl whose family had happily celebrated their lottery win for a 1st grade spot until being told their child hadn't tested high enough and would not be allowed to accept that lottery spot without being forced to repeat Kindergarten again. The child didn't enroll. That is why the July 2015 report from the NYC Independent Budget Office is so important. The IBO did a longitudinal study of how many of the randomly selected Kindergarten students in NYC charter schools made it to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. Did they stay or did they leave? There were 53 charter schools in that study -- 4 of them were Success Academy schools -- and IN AGGREGATE those 53 schools lost 49.5% of their entering Kindergarten students by 5th grade. The NYC IBO did not reveal the individual attrition data on each of those 53 schools - which would illuminate how many children leave Success Academy - but they have the data for a researcher to request. It's shocking the report hid those Success Academy attrition rates from the public by ONLY using aggregated data because in that very same report the NYC IBO went to great trouble to disaggregate the test performance data of those charter schools so that Success Academy's test scores could be seen separately from all the other charter schools and not lumped into a big aggregated number which wasn't very good! In other words, the NYC IBO accommodated Success Academy by disaggregating the test performance scores of a large group of charter schools individually so the public could all see the huge discrepancy between Success Academy's high test performance rates and other charter schools. Is there ALSO a huge discrepancy between Success Academy's attrition rates of their starting Kindergarten class when compared to the other charter schools? For some reason when it came to attrition rates, the IBO chose to keep all that data lumped together which effectively hides whether Success Academy's attrition is higher than the other charter schools in that study. Why would the IBO disaggregate and rank Success Academy's test scores compared to those other charter schools and NOT disaggregate and rank their attrition rates compared to the other charter schools? Politics? If you get that data, it would also be revealing to see how many of those Success Academy students were held back and needed one or even two extra years before they were allowed to enter the testing grades (and how many of those kids asked to repeat a grade for the 2nd or 3rd time eventually left). The IBO study that said only 49.5% of the Kindergarten students in those 53 charter schools remained in the school when their cohort SHOULD have reached 5th grade, but if a child was only in 3rd grade when he had been in the school 5 or 6 years, that child was considered to be still in the school. One of Success Academy's least talked about "special sauces" is to simply keep holding students back as much as necessary. Remember some of those special needs kids whose parents sued the school were already 2 or 3 years behind their starting cohort! If Success Academy finds that 20% or 30% of their at-risk students need to repeat a year with their supposedly excellent teaching methods, wouldn't an honest charter school want to make that point? Finally, you mentioned backfill and it is clear that Success Academy actively uses backfill after Kindergarten to increase its class size. But it is HOW they backfill that needs to be looked at closely. As I mentioned above, there seems to be some unmonitored testing of certain students who win the lottery spots for older grades -- does it start as early as 1st grade -- that will certainly dissuade some low-performing students from enrolling. If every single open spot in 2nd or 3rd grade is ONLY filled with a student tested and deemed "allowed" (by whatever standard Success Academy wants) to join the grade he won a lottery spot for, you can guarantee that your school has a high number of students working at grade level! What percentage of the Success Academy students who make it to the testing years were not part of that original Kindergarten cohort but replacement students who had to prove they were working on grade level already before being allowed to join their class? Once we have the data from that IBO report as to how many of the starting Kindergarten students in 2008-2009 were part of that 4th and 5th grade testing cohort that got such high scores, and how many of those high scoring students were backfilled students who came in later and were tested before being allowed to join their appropriate class, much will be illuminated. Does any other charter school test the kids who win post-Kindergarten lottery spots BEFORE the child has even spent a few months in the classroom for their age-appropriate grade? Or is that something that only Success Academy does, and perhaps only for certain students? Here is a link to the report. The attrition data is on page 9 of the report. I hope you or another researcher will request the disaggregated attrition data of those 53 schools. Thank you again for your research and the graphs and tables above. It is clear that students leave and it is clear that new students come in to replace them after Kindergarten. The question is how many of the students who remain are the randomly selected Kindergarten winners of the lottery, and how many of the students are the backfilled (and tested?) students allowed to join their grade? With the disaggregated data from the IBO, much can be learned.

Let's be honest and think outside the box. Charter schools are failing lots of students. Absorb this as well. THE SACRED OATH FROM HEBRON (1929) TO TODAY | GED Programs | MICHELLE MALKIN TAKES ON A FEW SCHOOLS IN THE USA » August 04, 2014 EDUCATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRAL ISLIP PUBLIC LIBRARY By Profesor Martin Danenberg “El Quijote del GED” with Queen Makkada, Jose M. Rios, and Angel Martinez. A quick word about Eva Moskowitz and Queen Makkada. Both Eva Moskowitz and Queen Makkada say that their schools must partner with parents. Queen Makkada does not have a lottery system for students because the students are in their neighborhood schools. Queen Makkada does not get paid a salary and Eva Moskowitz gets well over $300,000 a year. Queen works with about 300 parents that she has trained and about 85 percent of the children of these parents pass their state exams. Eva Moskowitz says that 82 percent passed math and 58 percent passed ELA exams. Eva Moskowitz says we cannot fix poverty if we do not fix education, but all over our nation urban areas are fighting poverty by fighting for a higher minimum wage and better salaries overall. Any differences in percentages may be due to better teaching to the test. Teaching to the test has to improve in school districts all over our nation. No Child Left Behind demanded 100 percent proficiency and anything less was considered a failing school. Diane Ravitch writes about this in The Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. She tells us that America’s schools are not failing and you can see indications of that in this article. Essentially what Queen Makkada and Eva Moskowitz have done is similar. Queen did not take over a school that was closed down. The 300 parents come from various schools. The students at the Success Academies, too, come from various schools. Neither Queen Makkada nor Eva Moskowitz (I believe) has turned around a failing school. If the parents decide that their children should leave those ten schools and enter Success Academies in September, Queen Makkada would have to start all over and the Success Academies would reap the benefits. If Queen Makkada could accomplish all of this in Far Rockaway, can we not provide the same help to parents all over the city of New York, all over our nation, and all around the world? I believe we can and I am ready to proceed. I have no objection to charter schools, but charter schools really are not the answer to a huge problem and I do not consider Eva Moskowitz or Campbell Brown the Michael Jordans of education. For profit schools seem to be the answer, but I have just explained what is really needed and we can start in September to make a huge difference, even where there are no Success Academies. Move over Campbell Brown. Campbell Brown in on the board of Success Academies. The facts that Eva Moskowitz wrote about in her article in the New York Post are okay, but I ask that there be much more integrity in this great debate that is taking place. I know that I can provide that integrity. It is up to others to reach higher and give us the whole truth and that truth is that parents everywhere can make a great difference and teachers need to learn how to teach to the test. I know that teaching to a math test is easier than teaching to a reading test. Check the Success Academies results again. I am sure that teachers are also providing a well-rounded education in Queen Makkada’s home school and in the Success Academies, but even Queen Makkada entered a school during the last year school year and found superior things going on that seemed to surpass what Queen’s home school was doing. That school was in her district and she was really impressed. I know that White flight from the public schools has been replaced by Black flight and school safety is an important issue that triggers much of this flight. School safety is so much better today than it was in previous decades going back to the late 1960’s. Also the population change in the city, created by enormous gentrification, has reduced crime significantly. The newspapers normally credit good policing, but I just drove through areas of New York City undergoing great change (expensive housing) and even the Bronx Borough president is talking about that, too. Ruben Diaz, Jr. pointed out that there have been no murders in the old Fort Apache Precinct and he said the Bronx still has a bad reputation and he objects to it. I know that the Bronx borough president and its schools need the help of Queen Makkada. I know that it was so hard to educate people decades ago with crack epidemics and AIDS spreading across our nation. Eva Moskowitz talks like Wonderwoman or Superman without taking on the greatest challenges that the public schools have confronted all these years. Educating people in the last 10 years has only gotten easier. In my late father’s days, the graduation rate was only about 15 percent. Let us begin with Queen Makkada as she describes her participation in my educational conference. On July 24th, at 7 pm I had the pleasure to participate in an educational panel discussion in the Central Islip Public Library. The event was organized by El Profesor "GED", Martin Danenberg. It was great to hear the views and data that other panelists brought to the table, along with participants from the audience. As the Title 1 representative representing all of NYC DOE's Title 1 Parents and Children on Chancellor Fariña's, Chancellor Leadership Advisory Council, CLAC, it was a perfect opportunity to share how trained, organized and committed Parent Leaders and parents in District 27's district wide Title 1 Parent Advisory Council changed schools in District 27, especially the Rockaways.

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