KIPP School Booted From US News Best Schools List

U.S. News and World Report publishes an annual list of the best high schools based on a metric involving mostly AP tests.  Two months ago I noticed something strange when examining the data for a KIPP high school in New York that was ranked 29th in the country and 4th in the state on this list.  Though there is just one KIPP high school in New York, there were four KIPP high schools in the rankings.  These schools were actually middle schools.  One of those schools had 100% of their students passing an AP while the other three had 0%.  The only logical explanation for this is that KIPP manipulated their rosters, assigning kids who passed APs to one ‘school’ and kids who didn’t to the other three ‘schools’ even though they were all just part of one high school.

I wrote a post about this and some people suggested I somehow report this to US News and World Report.  I didn’t want to get into a wild goose chase about this.  I didn’t think that US News and World Report really cared if their metric had been gamed or not.

So I was pleased to learn, the other day, that US News and World Report has this update on the main page now.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 9.23.03 PM

And on the page for the formerly 4th rated school in New York, KIPP Academy it has this update.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 9.21.42 PM

When the original US News ranking came out, the now disqualified KIPP Academy ranking was celebrated in The New York Post :

Here in the city, KIPP Academy in The Bronx came in 10th among charters and 29th among all US high schools. Keep it up, KIPP!

And The 74 cited this as well :

Check out Number 29 on the list, New York City’s KIPP Academy Charter School (KIPP NYC College Prep High School), located in the Bronx. Its student body is 44 percent black and 54 percent Latino. Eighty-seven percent of them qualify for free lunches, and an additional 13 percent qualify for reduced-priced lunches. Yet, they are excelling, and U.S. News rates the school as the fourth-best public high school in New York state.

And in The National Review :

These new rankings buttress school reformers’ case that genuine improvement comes when families have options. Every magnet or charter does not rise to the level of BASIS schools in Arizona or KIPP Academy in New York City, but their outsized representation among the nation’s best suggests that their models work.

Surely these other publications are not going to print corrections now that the KIPP Academy school has been removed from the top schools list.

In my years of blogging and uncovering things like this, this is a nice tangible ‘victory.’  I’m pretty sure that if I had never discovered this discrepancy, this correction would have not happened.  KIPP had done the same thing with this school for a few years and have surely been using it in fund raising materials and maybe even grants.  In the scheme of things it is a pretty small victory but still worth feeling good about.

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15 Responses to KIPP School Booted From US News Best Schools List

  1. Gabriel Maldonado says:

    I’m shocked KIPP would do such an unbelievably stupid and unnecessary thing. Ive supported charters as a way out of stifling edu bureaucracy that leaves public schools in this mediocre wasteland of public schools (my children attend relatively privileged public schools in Manhattan). Gaming the system makes no sense. It’s not that hard to offer something better than most public school in NYCDOE.

    • Stephen B Ronan says:

      Perhaps it would make sense to reserve judgment for now. There is no evidence that I see presented here or on the US News site that this was a deliberate error in which KIPP was at fault. As Gary acknowledged in his first article, KIPP in NY appears to have accurate figures publicly available on its own web site. How an inaccuracy arose somewhere in the chain as KIPP reported to NY state and NY state recorded the information and reported it to the College Board, and the College Board provided figures to US News (if I understand the process correctly) remains a mystery.

      • mjpledger says:

        There has to be deliberate game playing to carve up 1 physical high school into 4 nominal high school with all the kids passing an AP just happening to end up in one of those nominal high schools.

        And if there was any way that U.S. News and World Report could get out of making a correction (because that’s really embarrassing) do you think they wouldn’t have tried?

      • Stephen B Ronan says:

        I remain less certain than you as to what happened. It’s not as if there isn’t plenty of opportunity for error in the process that was undertaken, e.g., “In Pennsylvania, similarly due to a database problem linking the 2014-2015 state assessment scores to schools’ names, incorrect state assessment test scores were used in the calculation of the ranks of 23 schools.” https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/college-rankings-blog/articles/2017-05-17/revision-to-2017-best-high-schools-rankings

      • Mike h says:

        Four school; one with 100% success and three with 0. The chances of that coincidentally happening are probably worse than the chances I win the lottery. That sounds like seeing two students Get a mediocre score on a test with the same answers. Possible, but more likely one cheated.

      • mjpledger says:

        @Stephen
        People correct honest mistakes and their ranking was so newsworty that KIPP can’t have been in ignorance.
        As Gary wrote…
        “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.”

      • Stephen B Ronan says:

        I also sometimes wish that charter schools would devote more attention to rectifying misstatements made about them. As someone with charter school kids upstairs, downstairs and next door, all flourishing, I try once in a while to face the firehose of falsehoods directed against such schools. But can stem the flow of only a tiny portion.

  2. MathAppeal says:

    This seems to me more like Fraud rather than a “data discrepancy.”
    And if charters are really doing so well, why would they resort to such deception?

  3. Pingback: U.S. News Kicks KIPP NYC School Off Its List of “Best High Schools” Due to Gary Rubinstein’s Analysis | Diane Ravitch's blog

  4. David Holmes says:

    KIPP could reduce critics’ and apologists’ speculation by explaining how the error occurred.

  5. Karen Wolfe says:

    Excellent reporting!

  6. Orithal James says:

    I don’t know about New York, but KIPP in Tulsa still thinks it’s acceptable to make kids pull their pants down and get spanked in front of their peers. The data manipulation pales in comparison to that horror, especially when we’re trying to change the culture of violence in the black community.

  7. Frank Jobes says:

    Uplift and Idea schools do this too. All the kids are required to take AP courses so they can manipulate their rankings and data. Check them out too! Head of Uplift Schools is very aware yet it ranked as a top leader in the community.

  8. geauxteacher says:

    It is Sooooooooo easy to manipulate scores when they are, by design (high stakes) secret. Of course personal privacy is important but it is also makes for an easy fix. Reports from various charter school teachers (anonymous of course) verify that this Tom foolery is rampant. And since test scores are directly related to monetary rewards and funding using taxpayer $$$$$, it’s also a CRIME! When the stakes are so high, test performance should be subject to audit.

  9. Pingback: Ed News, Tuesday, July 11, 2017 | tigersteach

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