Current Charter School Data Which I Seek

There’s a telling description of genius by Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher of romantic pessimism…..”Talent is like the marksman who hits a target which others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target, as far as which others cannot even see.’ ……But if ordinary mortals cannot spot the bull’s eye, how do they know whether it has been hit?   An excerpt from The New Yorker – Anthony Gottleib’s Book Review of “A Nervous Splendor” regarding the Wittgenstein Family. P. 74  Apri 6, 2009

This quote appealed to me as the seeming genius behind charter schools is the ability to masque if (1) was there a target (2) was the target really hit?   Based on the lack of supporting evidence,  I am not sure if there was ever more than a methaphorical target (API Scores) and I don’t know if the true target has been hit as there is no quantitative data one way or the other.   This is a related blog about “what works” in education as reported.

Please note, this was added on 4/2/2009, AFTER my asking for the data from the two charter school organizations below.  Hopefully Item A will respond – they need to one way or the other for more education money. Please note, names of people, schools and organizations have been intentionally removed to avoid any issues considered libelous.   These are questions I am asking as I attended Teachers College at Columbia University in NYC for graduate school and was taught to ask questions, collect data.  I am intrigued by what is not printed as opposed to what is printed since charter schools can pay for marketing.   The avoidance of presenting data (when organizations state they are data driven) would indicate (A) the data is not being collected (B) the data would not fit into the paradigm of what the organization wishes to portray.   Since President Obama and Arne Duncan are pushing for more charter schools, it stands to reason they want as much data as possible to evaluate in determining what makes a successful charter school.  In my own mind, API is insufficient for any  college prep school to claim success.  If a school is indeed following its original intention of college prep, it should create a situation where more students attend college and more students complete college.  Any other public school is held to these same standards and it is the generally accepted domain of public education to adequately prepare students for college and completing college.

The New York Times (4/2, A15, Dillon) reports, “Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the nation’s governors on Wednesday that in exchange for billions of dollars in federal education aid provided under the economic stimulus law, he wants new information about the performance of their public schools, much of which could be embarrassing.” The second phase of funding to be dispersed later this year “comes in a $54 billion fiscal stabilization fund for states.” To receive a portion of the funding for their states, “governors must pledge to improve teacher quality, raise academic standards, intervene in failing schools more effectively and carry out other education initiatives.” The data required to show that “they are carrying out those pledges” include “Student math and reading scores on local tests, as well as on the National Assessment of Education Progress.”

        States Must Report On Teacher Quality To Receive Some Stabilization Funds. “As part of the teacher-quality assurance states must fulfill to receive fiscal-stabilization money…the department plans to demand that states report for each district the number and percentage of teachers and principals scoring at each performance level on local teacher- and principal-evaluation instruments,” Education Week (4/2, Sawchuk, Robelen) adds. Furthermore, states also must “be prepared to connect student-achievement data to individual teachers, and to track students from high school through college graduation.” Education Week points out that both requirements conflict with the efforts of teachers’ unions, which “have successfully lobbied legislatures to outlaw teacher-student data linkages in states such as California,” and with some states that “prohibit the sharing of data across systems for privacy purposes.”


Item A (e-mailed on 3/24/2009) 

Dear —— and ——-,

I would like to get some clarification on the following:  “I think about the fact that our first seniors to graduate ——— will graduate from college this spring, I know we have the will, skill and passion to rise to the challenges ahead.”

(1) What was the size of the graduating class when the first seniors graduated ———-while —————- was Principal?

(2) How many students in numbers are still in college today?

(3) How many will graduate Spring 2009?

(4) How many students are anticipated to graduate in Spring 2010 as I know it is more common currently to do college in 5 years.

The reason I ask is that I know ———- is very data driven and it would seem this is something you would want to share publicly. 

Item B (e-mailed on 3/24/09)

Dear ——-and ———,

I have been following the ——– phenomenon for quite some time. It occurred to me that there should be data surrounding students who have started college and students which have graduated.

I have been unable to find any of this data on the web site or through ancillary research.

If the ——— ———- began in 19– with Grade – students, that means the first graduating class would have been 20–.  These students would have now completed college and there would be another cohort following and one to graduate this spring.

(1) How many students were in the first graduating class?

(2) How many students (in numbers) graduated college from the first cohort? the second?

(3) How many students are anticipated to graduate Spring 2009?

I realize API scores are an important data measure, however, it has always seemed to me that the true test of a college prep charter school is the number of students who complete college and being able to compare that number with the surrounding district, county, state and country rates.

Thank you for helping me with the research.

As of  3/26/09, there has been no response from the CEO and/or home offices of either charter school organiztion.

As of 3/30/09, there has been no response from CEO and/or home office for Item A above. I e-mailed a second request.  As of 4/1/09, there has been no response from Item A above.   As of 4/5/09, there has been no response from Item A above so I am submitting a third request.  On 4/5/09, I received a response from one of the two people in Item A asking me to no longer e-mail them, they no longer worked at __________.  I apologized as they are still listed on the website of _________ and I then forwarded the chain of e-mail to another person on the website.

On 3/27/09, the group know as Item B above responded with a professional request for what I wanted to use the data for and how it would be used.  Since I responded on 3/28/2009, no further contact has been made and no data has been given to me. Please see the responses and NOTE:  all names of people and specific identifying organizations have been removed to protect myself from a libel lawsuit by requesting this information.







1.       Proposed Title of the Study:   

 This study is informal, although I feel that it would be valuable to use the data publicly.  I have been keeping a blog and put my request for  data in the blog    , although, truth be told, I have removed all names of people, organization, schools, etc. due to believing my questions would raise the ire of      and create a lawsuit.

It  seems reasonable to me that this is a MAJOR portion of what  is about and so the data exists somewhere, and I would like a copy for my own evaluation as a public school teacher.


2.       Principal Investigator(s): Include the person’s name, mailing address, e-mail, and telephone. If there is any affiliation with, please note that here. (If this person is not the main contact for the study, please give name and complete information for contact person.) Please attach CV(s) for the principal investigator(s). 


I am the principal investigator as an individual citizen of the U.S. who pays taxes in the State of CA and the U.S. and my taxes are used to fund a portion of the ADA which  is given as a public charter school.  My name is                          . You may review my Linked In page. 


3.       Affiliation/Research Unit: Name of affiliated university and program, research group or other organization.   None – this is my own personal interest.


4.       Co-Investigators and Affiliations: List others who will be working on the study, and their affiliation(s). None – this is my own personal interest.


5.       Background and Purpose: Please provide a clear statement of the key question this study seeks to answer. Provide relevant background, including references/citations where applicable. Please do not attach a full research proposal, but simply summarize the key question and background of the study. The            will request the full proposal if necessary.


If there is  data to support what I am thinking, I am interested in applying for a PhD program at a major education university.  Having taught for a charter school, I am evaluating what did and did not work.  While I have felt strongly that charter schools are valuable enterprises for educational change, I am alarmed at the lack of data when these institutions, particularly                              are DATA DRIVEN.   I am trying to understand what myself and other teacher colleagues, who have left charter schools, are missing out on  understanding the charter school promise of fulfillment to get more students through college by providing them with an exceptional pre-college education which prepares them adequately for the undertaking of college success.  College for certain means to me, completion of college, not merely arriving at the school.  If  charter schools are keeping their promise to America, we, as a nation, should be seeing the success rate of student graduation from college based on cohorts which attended various charter schools.


6.       Background and Expertise of Study Team: Please describe the background and expertise of the research team.  I have an MA from Teachers College at Columbia University in NYC and a CA Teaching Credential.


7.       Study Funding: If funding is required, who will be providing financial support? None. I would be pleased to share my evaluation of the data with              .


8.       Potential Benefits: Discuss the positive outcomes you hope to achieve with this study. In addition, please discuss any ways in which       could learn from or benefit from the findings of this study. For example, how could your findings help        improve teaching and learning in        schools? 


I believe that showing more than a correlation to getting high API scores and getting to college is needed to demonstrate charter schools as successful education change ventures.  Thus far, charter schools are not receiving the kind of press they initially did and are not presenting data other than API scores as their measure of success. The API scores are often a misrepresentation of reality due to high student and faculty turnover, which leads to the idea of charter schools being great filters, but not  actually accomplishing their original goals.   I have been following           and anything  published  on their website as official data, as well as following other charter school web sites and the data which they release.  I would like to understand how my tax dollars are improving education, both as a citizen and as a credentialed teacher. There is value for  and the public in seeing what works, what is  a correlation and what does not work in order to fix our public education system.


9.       Potential Areas of Concern: What are the obstacles you can foresee to the successful completion of this project?  Charter school organizations can afford marketing and do not want to release the “data” as it  could demonstrate something which is counter to their own marketing.  People will be interested in my research which could cause         and other charter organizations to have to become more transparent with the data they release publicly on their websites.


10.   Project Timeline: Please provide a timeframe for this project, with as many details as possible, including when anticipate results and findings will be available.

I would like to finish my blog as soon as possible and keep a public update available so others can read what I am finding out.


11. Research Methodology:  Please describe how the research will be conducted, providing the following:

  • Research sites: Identify each proposed site where research will be conducted.  Thus far, my reading of data on public websites and public information.
  • Subjects: Describe who you want to study, such as teachers, students, parents, and where they are located   Graduation from college rates of students which attended       schools.


  • Nature of the involvement of the research subjects: Describe how you plan to gather data from your research subjects. For example, are you planning interviews, surveys, focus groups, etc.?  Obtaining the numbers from      .
  • Time requirement: Estimate the time commitment required for your subjects, by year and over the course of your study. Are you planning to compensate subjects for their time?  I believe the data I am requesting of       is public access and should not need to pay        .
  • Other research methods to be used: List school or classroom observations, and any other data collection processes proposed for the study.  Evaluating the number of students from similar schools K-12 in the district, county and state which attended college (4 years, 5 years, never).
  • Other data to be requested from                 : If you will be requesting any additional data from                     , please describe that here.
  • Methodology rationale: Please describe how the selected methodology will best allow you to answer your key research question.  The raw numbers of students which graduate           schools each year since inception, attend college, graduate in 4 years, 5 years or never).


12.  Required Consents: Describe any consents required for study participants.  None – just a data release from       . I do not need names. Specifically, I would like data by cohort starting at a        school, graduation (4 year, 5 year, never) from college, m/f, portion of population stipulated in charter school materials indicating the students were low income/poverty students during time at          and upon going to college.


13.    Additional Assistance from          : If you anticipate that you will need any assistance from                  beyond data requested above, please describe this in detail here (i.e., sending out email to potential participants, etc.).  None.



14. Brief Description for Proposed Participants: Provide a brief paragraph that could be used to explain your study and motivate potential research subjects to participate in it.  I do not believe this aspect applies to the release of data which I am requesting.



15.Publication/Presentation of Findings: If you anticipate that this research will be submitted for publication or presented to an audience, please provide as much information about this as possible, even if only preliminary.   My blog, as listed above and, should I attend graduate school, this would be a portion of my PhD, subject to all the necessary publication requirements of the university.


16.   Any other information: Is there anything else you would like to include to help understand the value of your study?  Being a strong supporter of President Obama and his value of transparent data, including where my tax dollars go, I feel this data is valuable to me and the public in demonstrating the positive change  and other charter school organizations (including Bill Gates, The Fisher Foundation, etc.) have provided in improving the educational process in America.



Side note/Update:


Education Week (3/31, Gewertz) reported, “Federal regulations have opened a door that allows schools to get credit under the No Child Left Behind Act for students who take longer than four years to earn a high school diploma.” Under “regulations issued last October” by then US Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, states can “apply for permission to use one or more ‘extended year’ rates alongside their respective four-year rates.” This “would allow the states to get some credit” under No Child Left Behind “for students who took five or more years to complete high school. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has not yet announced “whether he would change the regulations.” But he has said that limiting states to a four-year rate may “create some unintended consequences.” Education groups, meanwhile, “are trying to figure out a ‘next-generation’ accountability system that delivers the right pressure and credit to high schools, and the right opportunities to students.”



NCLB Rules Would Grant Schools Credit For Students Graduating Late.

Another side note:   I report -Are your schools all they could be?

School Improvement Data Tied To Second Round Of Stimulus Funding.

Updated 4/29/09

Rigorous Curriculum, Curriculum Mastery Seen As Predictors Of College Readiness.


Philip Cicero asks in New Jersey’s Newsday (6/25), “Will the high school diploma issued to the 2009 graduates give them any chance for success in college and the workplace?” According to Cicero, “There is alarming evidence suggesting that the success of many of today’s graduates may have little to do with their future achievements in college or at work.” The reason for this, he wrote, is that their learning was based on “a very basic curriculum focusing on minimum competencies — one essentially being driven by the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind law.” The predictors of college readiness, Cicero contends, are “a rigorous curriculum” and curriculum mastery. A lack of both “may help explain why many students leaving high school need remediation upon entering post-secondary institutions.” Concluding, Cicero wrote that “instead of focusing on basic competency,” policymakers should seek to “provide all students with a rigorous and meaningful curriculum that is relevant to their post-secondary choices.”