Who Survives Success?

Success Academy opened in 2006 with 156 students — 83 kindergarteners and 73 first graders.  Now, eleven years later, they have their first graduating seniors, though just 17 of them.  In my last post I wondered what can be learned about the Success model by examining who exactly those 17 students are.

A big question, and one that might never be answered, is how many of those 17 students were actually among the original 73 first graders.  Since Success allows transfers up until 4th grade it is possible that some of those 17 students transferred in which would make their attrition rate even worse than the 77% that it is at a minimum.

New York State has a pretty good data site which I used to look at the most recent data from the 2016-2017 school year.  I then compared the data about the 10th and 11th grade from 2016-2017 to the data of their kindergarten and 1st grade from 2006-2007.

According to the state data (which can be found here), out of the 156 students (83 Kindergarten and 73 1st grade) in 2006-2007, 113 — which is 72% — of them qualified for either free or reduced lunch.  Though there was not data of the breakdown by gender, I think it is a fair assumption that the boys and girls were likely equally split, more or less.

Using the most recent data (which can be found here) we see that last year there were 36 10th graders and 20 11th graders.  So those 156 students have now become just 56 which is a 64% attrition, not even counting how many new students transferred in by 4th grade.  But even more than the attrition, I was able to use some of the data filters to get more information about who left the school.

For one thing, of the remaining 56 students from those first two cohorts, there are now 37 girls and 19 boys.  I know that I don’t have data to prove that they were half girls and half boys back in 2006-2007, but I believe it is very likely so the fact that those two classes are now two-thirds girls and one-third boys supports my belief that girls are more likely to make it all the way through Success Academy than boys.

But something that I do have data to compare is in the economic disadvantage category.  While they had 72% economically disadvantaged in 2006-2007, for those two cohorts in 2016-2017 there were on 27 out of 56 that were in that category which is just 48%.  So there is firm data that students who are economically disadvantaged.  So even without counting for transfers in, they only retained 24% of their economically disadvantaged students (27 out of 113) while retaining 67% of their students who were not economically disadvantaged (29 out of 43).

For the class of 2018, the 17 who are about to graduate and who have been celebrated in the media, what we can say from the data from last year was that they had 20 students of which 9 qualified as economically disadvantaged.  So there are at most 9 out 17 (53%) now or, depending on which three students left, as few as 6 out of 17 (35%).  This does not support the claim that the Success survivors have the same demographics as their neighboring schools.

If the net result of eleven years of Success Academy is to get 9 low-income students into college, that’s a lot of hype and a lot of money to be spent for that, not to mention all the loss of resources to the 1,099,991 other students in New York City schools who had to suffer a loss of resources as Success used their influence and marches and wealthy donors money to stage publicity stunts in Albany and to get the Governor to go to battle with the Mayor about having the city pay charter school rents.

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8 Responses to Who Survives Success?

  1. Pingback: Gary Rubinstein: Who Survives Success? | Diane Ravitch's blog

  2. Tovah Klein says:

    This is not surprising given all we know about SA, but still shameful on so many levels. What clearly does not fit is all the hype of the Success school students being these high scoring state test scorers. If this were to be the case in any authentic way, then many more students should be making it through. Many pieces are suspicious. Even if I don’t value tests (which I do not), top test takers tend to graduate at high rates. Who is protecting Success? Is it only Cuomo? Who else?

  3. parent010203 says:

    “they only retained 24% of their economically disadvantaged students (27 out of 113) while retaining 67% of their students who were not economically disadvantaged (29 out of 43).”

    It’s incredible that no researcher has shown the least bit of curiosity about those statistics. It’s incredible that there has been no research at all into the true longitudinal attrition rates of every child who won the Kindergarten or first grade lottery. Given these statistics that certainly point to retention rates nearly 3 times as high for kids who are not at-risk, how could the SUNY Charter Institute ignore this? How could any academic institutions that do research into education ignore this? The fact that to this day the public has absolutely no idea how many of the original lottery winners disappear has no explanation except real corruption in which anything that makes a charter looks bad is kept hidden. It might explain that many years ago Joseph Belluck claimed that SUNY was going to look more carefully into how charters retain their special needs kids and never did. Or maybe they did and decided that the findings needed to be kept hidden. In either case, there is something terribly wrong with this oversight and it’s shocking that the news media doesn’t ask more questions.

  4. Lisa M says:

    That’s the problem with “data”. Parts can be used to plead a case. Any bozo can skew the data to make it mean what they want it to mean. When politicians and people in power talk about” what the data says”, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand at attention because I know the lies are coming.

  5. Steve M says:

    Gary, take a look at this New Jersey report, focussing your attention on pages 13-27…


    You need to do a similar study of New York’s charter schools.

  6. Regina Johnson says:

    What really sucks is that Charter Schools can be a tool for good. I spent most of my career in NYC District schools and I have also worked in a great charter network that did great things for kids, employees, and the community. No one or the other is inherently bad. What’s bad is that Eva Moskowitz has polarized education and used money and social capital to turn schools into a game with winners and losers. I hate that Success Academies is synonymous with Charter Schools for people not working in education (even for some who do work in education).
    I am a new principal starting a charter school in Queens, and it is ridiculous how much I have to fight through politics to open a new school in my own neighborhood. This whole process has helped me understand the problems more clearly
    1. If schools had more autonomy and less bureaucracy- there would be no need for charter schools to exist. Instead of fighting charter schools, we have to work on better policy so that there is no need for charter schools.
    2. Political support should not be needed to open a school. That is where things start to get dicey. There should be the same requirements for district and charter schools to open, remain open, and to close. Same policy for all dealing in education, again end the bureaucracy.
    3. Also, NO NETWORKS OVER 10 SCHOOLS. Those <10 schools should also be made by the community that is being served. The exact issue that charters are meant to address is the distance between the decision makers and the end users. If a charter school network is simply working to put the DOE out of business, they will become the next DOE with all of their policies that are not fit for all.

    All you NYers in education, school creation should not be made in a vacuum, nor by the political elite. Take this survey for the creation of the new charter school in Queens- we need all the community feedback we can get. OurLegacyAcademy.org

  7. Pingback: Success Academy Finally Takes — And Bombs — The Algebra II Regents | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

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