Reformers are all about ‘outcomes’ and that’s why they love Success Academy charter schools. Year after year Success Academy students outperform the rest of the state on the 3-8 ELA and math tests.

For sure if there was a hospital out there that was claiming to have the ability to cure Cancer or something like that, there would be all kinds of independent investigations and different tests to see if their claims were for real. But when it comes to education, we don’t see this so much.

The oldest Success Academy students are now in 10th grade. They have had two different cohorts of 8th graders take the specialized high school test for admission into one of the 8 specialized New York City high schools. Amazingly, none of those students made it into any of the specialized schools. That is pretty unusual that a group of students does so well on one standardized test but does so poorly on another. Aside from knowing that none of their 8th graders made the cut score on that test, there are no other details about their specific scores.

But there are other tests those students have taken, namely the New York State Regents exams. Most advanced students take the Algebra I test in 8th grade and then various Regents in 9th grade, maybe Geometry and also a few others like Living Environment, Earth Science, and Global History.

I had not heard about how they fared on the Regents exams for the past two years so I went over to the revamped New York State data site. I went to the page for the school, Success Academy Harlem I, but could not locate the Regent scores. I did take notice of their enrollment by grade, however.

The first Success Academy cohort began as kindergarteners in 2006-2007 ago with 83 kindergarteners and 73 first graders. That group of 73 first graders had been whittled down to 26 ninth graders last year and who knows how many of those 26 are now tenth graders this year. So they have lost about 2/3 of them so far so we’d expect the Success survivors to be pretty strong academically.

I did see the enrollment by grade for the 2013-2014 school year and compared it to the enrollment by grade for the 2014-2015 school year. For the 424 students that were in grades 4 through 8 in 2013-2014 only 369 students were in grades 5 through 9 in 2014-2015. This represents a net loss of 55 students or about 13% of the students. The biggest percent change was the 32 8th graders in 2013-2014 shrinking to 26 9th graders in 2014-2015, nearly 20% of their 8th graders not continuing in 9th grade.

When I couldn’t locate the Regents scores I inquired with the state data department. They responded back that the data from Success Academy was missing. I wrote back asking why the data was missing. Doesn’t Success Academy have to submit their Regents scores? The state data department said yes they do, but they didn’t. I then asked if they could ask Success Academy for the scores so they can be in compliance and so the data can be publicly posted along with everyone else’s Regents scores and the state data department said that they can’t help me anymore and that if I want the Regents scores from Success Academy, I should contact the school directly — something I’m not going to attempt for obvious reasons.

So there you have it, Success Academy playing by its own set of rules, not reporting its Regents scores. Considering charter schools get to mark their own Regents, unlike non-charters who have their Regents graded by teachers at other schools, and that they have so few students left, just 26 out of 73, I’d think that their Regents scores would be pretty decent. Then again, maybe they didn’t report those scores since it would make them look bad. Either way I think everyone would agree that they should be required to submit their Regents scores like every other school has to.

Do you have recent data on Success Academy student’s results on the SHSAT and subsequent admissions to the 8 New York City specialized high schools? The article linked is from 2014. I’m thinking they must now have had three cohorts take the exam. Is the admissions rate still 0%?

They had 2 cohorts take it and 0% for both. They didn’t write about it but the reporter told me.

I’ve been trying for the last few years to get any major news source to write a story about the unreliability of Charter School Regents data since they continue to score their own regents, while all public schools do the centralized scoring. Do you have any links to news outlets that have written this story? I’ve e-mailed the ChalkBeat tip address multiple times asking them to do this story, and they have never replied to me, nor have they written a story on it.

Didn’t the 2016 cohort take the SHSAT? That would be three total.

You say it’s, “…pretty unusual that a group of students does so well on one standardized test but does so poorly on another.”

When comparing the SHSAT to the state tests, there could be a very good reason for this disparity. The State math test should be, by definition, on grade level. The math on the SHSAT, however, is above grade level. I haven’t looked at any datasets, but would suspect SHSAT success would more strongly correlate with the number of students taking the Algebra Regent in 8th grade.

Further, if Success Academy is meeting “higher standards” why aren’t all 8th grade SA students taking the Algebra 1 Regents exam? If typical public schools can make the Algebra 1 Regents available to some or most of their 8th grade students, then why isn’t SA placing all of their 8th grade students into Algebra 1 Regents classes?

From Inside Schools website: 12% of 8th Graders citywide take and pass the Algebra Regents. A quick review of middle schools in my neighborhood (Park Slope) shows pass rates between 19 and 36% (with an outlier at 0%).

But SA has the highest math scores in the city, if not the state. In many suburban school districts, the highest scoring, or highest achieving math students take Algebra 1 in 8th grade. If SA has high standards why wouldn’t don’t they reach for the standard of having Algebra 1 in 8th grade?

It may be that none of those kids take Regents Algebra — as it could risk lowering Eva’s scores. I believe the Board of Regents issued a rule last year, aimed to reduce testing, that said students who take the Regent exam in Algebra do not have to also take the grade 8 math state test. So if Eva allowed kids who are advanced to take Regents Algebra, then the remaining kids, ie the lower performers, would be the only ones taking the grade8 math test, upping the real risk of lower test scores for that grade. Success Academy can’t take that risk.

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There is no special sauce. The “recipe” is to remove “ingredients” (i.e. “scholars) as we go from year to year. If I drove my car by SA’s “successful” standards, I’d have no wheels, no engine, no windshield, on and on; eventually, I’d be walking. When will SA be held to a higher standard, and then just go out of business?

Reblogged this on Crazy Normal – the Classroom Exposé and commented:

Eva Moskowitz operates outside of the American democratic system. She ignores the law and writes her own rules. Her private sector for profit business is funded with public tax dollars. Eva’s schools cherry pick students and gets rid of many of those students when they don’t measure up to Success Academies desired student profile that the be blindly obedient and great test takers. She pays herself more than a half million dollars annually from the public pocket and keeps giving herself big raises. Her Success Academy corporate charter schools supported by hedge funds have to administer the New York State Regents Exams, but unlike public schools, her for-profit corporate charters are allowed to score their own Regents Exams. Public schools are not allowed to do this. By law, in New York State, the public schools must report the results of the Regent Exams and make them public. Eva’s Success Academies have never reported their scores. Why?

At some point, charter school advocates need to give up their claim that charter schools are public schools. That they are not subject to the same audits as public schools and that their teachers score their own students’ Regents exams should be enough to undermine that claim. If that is not enough, then SA’s not reporting their Regents scores to SED with no consequences should be the final nail in the coffin. Imagine if a real public school did that…

“For the 424 students that were in grades 4 through 8 in 2013-2014 only 369 students were in grades 5 through 9 in 2014-2015. This represents a net loss of 55 students or about 13% of the students.”

I wish that you (or another researcher) would look closely at exactly what that net loss of students really is. Remember, you are looking at a one year 13% “net loss” of ONLY students who make it to 4th grade at Success Academy. But the only numbers on how many of the original Kindergarten students even make it to 4th grade is in the hands of the NYC so-called “Independent” Budget Office who has that information but seemed to purposely hide it by only including the 5-year LONGITUDINAL attrition rate in 4 Success Academy schools among a much larger group of over 50 other charter schools.

Check out page 9 of this IBO report from July 2015:

http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/school-indicators-for-new-york-city-charter-schools-2013-2014-school-year-july-2015.pdf

A group of charter schools (including 4 Success schools) lost 49.5% of their starting Kindergarten cohort by 5th grade. And an unknown number of the half remaining were held back at least one year. So how many of the students being tested in 3rd or 4th grade are from that group of Kindergarten lottery winners at Success Academy? (Let’s not include the “ringers” – the students added post-Kindergarten who are allowed to join an older grade only AFTER being forced to take a pre-enrollment exam to prove their worthiness of joining their rightful grade.) Only the NYC IBO did a much needed longitudinal study of attrition rates and they seem to be refusing to release the attrition rate by school, so that in their group of charter schools the high attrition schools are “saved” from embarrassment by the low attrition schools. Where does Success Academy rank among that group of charter schools where 49.5% of the Kindergarteners disappeared by 5th grade? We don’t know.

What seems truly questionable is that on page 22 in this SAME report the IBO went to great trouble to show the individual “test performance” results by charter school, because they felt it was very important to show that Success Academy’s test results were significantly higher than the mediocre to terrible results of other charter schools. So the IBO mysteriously chose to HIDE the individual attrition rate of Success Academy Kindergarten lottery winners by only reporting attrition for a group of 53 schools, but when it came to reporting test scores, that very same IBO felt compelled to SEPARATE the results of Success Academy so that their test results weren’t hidden by being lumped together with lots of other charters. What kind of biased report would do that? Hide the individual attrition rates of Success Academy schools, but report on the individual testing results of Success Academy schools. You would think the IBO would want to know if there was any correlation between high attrition and high test scores but apparently the IBO has a deplorable lack of curiosity as to whether one might affect the other. I hope there are researchers that have a bit more knowledge of how to do a real study than the IBO seems to have, and that they request the disaggregated data of how many of the starting Kindergarten students at those Success schools were MIA by 5th grade. If a high performing charter school isn’t holding onto most of the 5 year olds who win their Kindergarten lottery, while lower performing charter schools keep many more of their students, then something funny is going on and people should start asking questions. Like why?

Would the Public Advocate follow up on Success Academy’s noncompliance with reporting test scores to the state?

Reblogged this on David R. Taylor-Thoughts on Education.

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Excellent questions all. I did a little post pointing to your blog, Gary.

https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/why-does-eva-moskowitz-get-to-avoid-following-the-rules/

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Wow… this is great… parents need to to know that they are being sold a fake dream. .. charter schools are just looking to make our kids into factory workers, work all day and when youre done with workday go home and do some more work..

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