College For Certain….Or Not

Being all consumptive about data (heck, I am a fan of Edward Tufte), I have been puzzling over the following conundrum and look forward to input from others to assist me in extrapolating meaning:

Most charter schools have a tenant, pillar, strong point which relates to college attendance.  Generally speaking it is a broad statements about students graduating their high school and going to college. The statement is broad enough to include attendance at community colleges as well as larger public and private colleges/universities in the U.S. and abroad.  The statement is generally broad enough to make one believe that students not only graduate high school and attend college, but the student completes college.   Now, I admit, my last sentence may be far broader in interpretation than what charter schools actually mean and I am sorry for the broadness of my statement (which makes me concerned about how many other people got sucked into ‘believing’ college graduation is part of attending college). I would   be willing to accept attending college meaning part time, at a community college for one year with grades of C or better as meeting the goal of college – some college is always better than none.  With all of these interpretations out there, I have tried and successfully failed to find the college data from any major charter school.

First off, let me state that I point blank wrote e-mails to the people involved who would ‘have access’ to the data most readily in hopes these people would have some one from their IT department put up a posting on their respective web sites.  See blog                    I have attempted all reasonable methods of obtaining the data, short of going to the actual schools and looking at yearbooks and then trying to match up Facebook pages, etc.  I am not keen on violating personally privacy where names are being used.  These are the web sites I have checked in news and data:,,,,  and  where I went through and plucked out various charter schools which provide Gr 9-12 education and have been open 5 or more years, indicating they have one group of high school gradutes in college at this time.

My second statement is the following: If I were the person in charge of a charter school organization where I had been using the marketing of my program as higher test scores and college attendance, I can assure you I would have data posted. I would indicate number of graduates per year and follow through with the students who wished to stay in contact with their high school alma mater, going so far as to have links to the various students blogs, Linkedin accounts, anything which was appropriate for public consumption as I would want the not yet graduated students at my school to regularly observe the success of their peers and see what can be achieved.  I would track numbers of students who completed community college, college programs taking four and five years and which students were applying for higher ed such as M.D., J.D., various masters programs, Peace Corps, etc.  I would stay in contact with the parents of said students as most of them may have been the first in the family to graduate high school, never mind the first to attend college.  There would be  an active post of $ funnelled to these various students in the form of grants, scholarships, etc. (Ex:  three students have a total of $40k /year in scholar athlete money from public colleges) since these students have much to be proud of in their success of higher ed.   While it would be great to break it down by race, age, etc., I believe that is a bit too personal and gives away more information than is necessary – that is strictly for the academics. By having this data, I would be demonstrating that I support what I have stated as my charter school(s) success stories.

My third statement regards parents/students of charter schools:  It seems odd that the very people charter schools are supposed to benefit are not seeking this data, especially when going to enroll their children at a charter school. This would be data, along with API scores that I would ask for simply because this is what the charter school is marketing to me.

So, I have a few things that I must now assume as I am lacking in data: (1) The charter schools did not collect the data. (2) The charter schools collected the data, however, it is so dismal, it is not worth actually posting and it might in some way counter indicate the API successes at various schools. (3) The data is not important unless parents ask for it….even though my tax dollars fund these public schools and I would like to see the return on my tax dollars as being better than the regular public school around the corner which is charged with the same accomplishment – get kids to and through college. (4) The data is astoundingly great and there are statisticians working on it to make the presentations easy to follow (Edward Tufte style). 

Other than those four choices, I am hard pressed to know where the College For Certain data might be and when it will be shared with the public.

Please,  forward me data if you have found it and/or share your reasonable ideas .  Remember, these schools will need to present some data to obtain the second tranche of federal funds for education so the ideas presented have to be doable.  I would love to know that all charter schools are successful in changing the face of education, unfortunately there is no data to support a change from any other public school.

This was found on 4/22/09

The New York Times (4/22, A14, Dillon) reports that while “it is no surprise that more students drop out of high school in big cities than elsewhere,” a new “nationwide study shows the magnitude of the gap: the average high school graduation rate in the nation’s 50 largest cities was 53 percent, compared with 71 percent in the suburbs.” The report by the nonprofit America’s Promise Alliance titled Closing the Graduation Gap also shows that “some big city school districts,” such as Philadelphia Public Schools, “that have worked to improve their graduation rates have made significant progress since the middle of the last decade.” The graduation rate in Philadelphia schools increased “to 62 percent in 2005 from 39 percent in 1995, the report said.”

        “In all, 13 cities saw double-digit improvement in their graduation rates, according to the study,” the AP (4/22) adds. In addition to Philadelphia, Tucson, AZ, and Kansas City, MO, “made huge gains over the past decade, boosting graduation rates by 20 percentage points or more, the study found.” Still, “urban schools…have a long way to go. On average, only half the kids graduate in the 50 biggest cities, the report said. Those cities are home to half the country’s population and are driving a national graduation rate that is estimated at 70 percent.”

        According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (4/22, Torres), “The report based its findings on data ending in 2005. Researchers calculated graduation rates using a formula that tracks the four steps students must take to earn a diploma on time — three grade-to-grade promotions until, after grade 12, graduation.”


Study Shows Large Gap In Graduation Rates Between Urban, Suburban Schools.

Updated 4/30/09  

The New York Times (4/30, A22, Medina) reports that nearly “six years after a lawsuit forced” New York City “to pledge to keep better track of students who leave public schools without graduating, the number leaving high schools has continued to climb, according to a report to be released Thursday by the public advocate’s office.” In 2007, more “than 20 percent of students from the class of 2007 were discharged — the term for students who leave the school system without graduating” — and 7.5 percent of those students were ninth-graders.” Comparatively, “17.5 percent from the class of 2000” were discharged, with 3.5 percent of those being ninth-graders. The Times notes that “students can be classified as discharged for a number of benign reasons, including a transfer to a private school or a move out of the city.”

Number Of Discharged New York City High-Schoolers Increases.


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.”