My looks at data are deceiving even to me…….

http://www.newsweek.com/feature/2011/americas-best-high-schools.html

I could not resist reading the above article when it inadvertently popped on my computer screen as I was rabbit holing for something else.  Typically I don’t have to do much in the way of actively looking for education news – it is just ‘there’ to be read by myself and anyone else.  Reading the article is one aspect; the second part is analyzing what I read as I am always on the search for news which will show me education in America is improving.  It is not satisfying when articles such as this  one actually confirm what I may have thought – there is no challenge in viewing an alternate possibility of success and celebrating how change actually happened.

Newsweek selected some heavy hitters with Wendy Kopp, Linda Darling-Hammond and Tom Vander Ark to create the metrics for assessing the schools.

…….each school’s score is comprised of six components: graduation rate (25%), college matriculation rate (25%), AP tests taken per graduate (25%), average SAT/ACT scores (10%), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10%), and AP courses offered (5%).

In light of the people and metrics, I found it difficult to believe not one Aspire Public Schools campus made the list nor KIPP in the State of CA or TX (where KIPP heralds from).  My shock is related to these  two charter school foundations which publicly state they are changing the face of education, put out tons of statistics and test score improvements, yet failed to make the cut.  Something had to be wrong with this picture.

In its six years of operation, CAL Prep has surpassed California standards for excellence on the Academic Performance Index, according to Christine Schneider, a spokesperson for Aspire Public Schools.

This is where the research begins:

I was trying to figure out how schools with outstanding scores did not make it to the top.  AP/IB/AICE scores were averaged and weighted at 10%. Assuming any school which calls itself ‘college prep’ offers these classes, that could not be a problem. Maybe it was the number of students taking those classes.  Again, a school which calls itself college prep should have students attending these classes, most especially when the campus has high test scores. Number of AP courses offered  was only 5% of the total so again, this should not be at issue.  I know that Aspire Public Schools occassionaly gets professors from community colleges to teach courses which would be at least college level where students can obtain college credit (this should be AP).

Graduation rate……hmm, now there is a stinker.   I know when I taught Grade 8 for Aspire Public Schools, there were almost 60 students in my two science classes. The school moved to Berkeley (I will not address the reasons the school felt a need to leave Oakland, but they did).  The graduating class was 17 students.  Perhaps the graduation rate was a problem.  When you loose  about 2/3 of your students in  four years, there is a problem.

College matriculation rate – according to the below, all 17 students were accepted to four year colleges and universities.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Aspire-Public-Schools/191834436818?sk=notes#!/note.php?note_id=384702101385

At a minimum, this school- by all rights, should have been on the Newsweek list……what went wrong and why did Aspire Public Schools not cry foul?

Some one  had been reading my blog and they were searching blogs regarding Aspire Public Schools. I went and did the same and started reading the blog listed below.

http://econompicdata.blogspot.com/2010/02/employment-by-education-attainment.html

It is clear, Gloria Lee knows the value of a college education as she noted she loves data. So why is there no data on the approximately 2/3 of the class who did not graduate and why is Aspire Public Schools not addressing that issue?

Graduating 1/3 of your student population in four years is not even as good as the success rate of day traders in the stock market and we all know they have angles. Once again I am wondering what happens to the real data, the truly ‘realized’ losses which seem to be occurring but are not talked about. Here is a school which SHOULD be at the top of its game.  These inconsistencies of data are troubling simply because of the advent of “Waiting for Superman” and Michelle Rhee…..could it be charter schools actually are not out doing their regular public school brethren?  Could it just be charter school marketing hype?

Addendum:  I am looking forward to the analysis of this information by Aspire, KIPP, etc. in CA   http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/12/BAT71KMA37.DTL

 

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