Yesterday I wrote about the U.S. News and World Report 2017 high school rankings. I found some suspicious numbers when I noticed that the 29th best high school, and the 4th best in New York, was a KIPP school called KIPP Academy Charter School. Their rating was based on the fact that out of the 58 12th graders at that school, 58 took an AP test and 57 of those 58 passed an AP test for a ‘College Ready Index’ of 98 out of 100.
I noticed that the other three KIPP High Schools in New York had ‘College Ready Indexes’ of 0 and I found that very odd, maybe some kind of manipulation by KIPP to put all their best students into one of their high schools so they could get one school a good rating by the U.S. News metric.
Someone left a comment on that post which resulted in some deeper digging on my part. Based on what I’ve found, and it is pretty confusing actually, I believe I’ve uncovered a pretty big scandal.
The reader informed me that there are not four KIPP high schools in New York City, but just one, KIPP NYC College Prep High School. This was puzzling to me since the school that was ranked 29th in the country and 4th in New York was not called KIPP NYC College Prep High School, but called KIPP Academy Charter School.
When I went to look at the data at the public data site for school report cards, there was no report card for a KIPP NYC College Prep High School, however. But there were report cards for the four MIDDLE schools, KIPP Academy, KIPP AMP, KIPP Infinity, and KIPP STAR. On these report cards, it shows that 5-8 middle schools also have students in 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade, in small numbers.
One of those four middle schools is the KIPP Academy with its 58 12th graders, and this is the ‘school’ that was rated so highly on the U.S. News ranking.
But the reality is that there is just one high school and it does not have just 58 students, but around 150 students, basically the four 12th grade classes from the four middle schools are actually not attending that middle school but all attending the KIPP high school.
Why the students are still ‘officially’ in their middle schools is a mystery to me and why there is not report card for the KIPP high school is also pretty baffling.
The non-existent KIPP Academy Charter High School that was ranked 29th in the country and 4th in New York claimed to have 58 students with a 100% AP participation rate and a 98% passing rate. We now know that these 58 students are only a subset, around a fourth, of an existing school KIPP NYC College Prep. Though there is no state report card for KIPP NYC College Prep, the school has one on their website for the 2014-2015 school year on which the U.S. News ratings were based.
Conveniently, at the bottom of that report card are the true numbers for their AP participation and AP passing rate.
So as opposed to the fictional 29th best high school in the country KIPP Academy Charter school with it’s 98 ‘College Ready Index’ based on their AP participation and passing, the one and only, and real, KIPP NYC High School has a ‘College Ready Index’ of around 40.
Now someone could say that maybe KIPP had nothing to do with this, that the New York City Department of Education supplies the data to The College Board and since that data makes it seem like the four middle schools also house high schools, the AP would treat them as four different high schools rather than one school, so there may not be any attempt to mislead by KIPP.
But, there remains one giant mystery then. If this wasn’t an attempt by KIPP to somehow get all their passing AP students into one fictitious school, how is it possible that every AP taker and passer somehow came from the KIPP Academy school and none of them from the other three KIPP middle schools? If the KIPP Academy 12th graders just happened to be the ones that went to KIPP Academy for 8th grade and the KIPP AMP 12th graders just happened to be the ones that went to KIPP AMP for 8th grade and the KIPP Infinity 12th graders just happened to be the ones that went to KIPP Infinity for 8th grade and the KIPP STAR 12th graders just happened to be the ones that went to KIPP STAR for 8th grade, and now they are all mixed together into one high school, though still ‘officially’ part of small high schools within their old middle schools, then what are the chances that the 58 students who took the AP and, of them, the 57 who passed an AP, just randomly happened to be the same ones that went to that one middle school and that no students from the other middle schools took or passed an AP? It’s not possible.
No, it is more likely that KIPP, knowing that they have the ability to separate their high school students into four groups, and knowing how important AP participation and passing rates are for the U.S. News rankings which they will surely use in their fund raising, deliberately sorted their AP takers and passers into the one fictional KIPP Academy school. I can’t prove this, and even if I could I’m not sure it is illegal to do this, but if it’s true it is certainly dishonest. At a minimum, someone should contact U.S. News and have them correct this error.
This has actually been going on for at least two years. Last year the imaginary KIPP Academy high school was rated 2nd best in New York. And KIPP staffers, not just the higher ups, but all the teachers at the KIPP high school, were aware of this mistake and didn’t do anything to correct it last year or to stop it from happening again this year. No, they just hoped that nobody would ever look into it.