Success Academy is the most well known and controversial charter chain in the country. They are also the most secretive.
In New York state, high school students are required to pass end of the year finals, called The Regents, in order to graduate. In 2006 Success Academy started with their first two cohorts so two years ago I checked to see how their first 9th graders fared on The Regents. I found that they did not post any scores, which was pretty surprising since Success is so well known for their standardized test scores. I then learned that when that first cohort made it to 11th grade, they did have those students take some Regents exams after all. Those results are now on the New York State public data system.
I see various results from the English, Algebra II, Global History, and Chemistry. They did fine on English and Global History, but very poorly on Algebra II.
Unlike the state tests where students are graded on a scale of 1 to 4, the Regents are graded out of 100. Since the common core Regents have been made, the number from 0 to 100 is not a percentage, but a scaled score where a passing score of 65 can be achieved on Algebra II, at least, by getting about 30% of the possible points on the test.
On this public data site, though they have the scores broken down as level 1 to 5. According to New York State, level 4 qualifies as ‘meets standards’ while level 5 is ‘exceeds standards.’ On the June 2017 exam with the generous curve, students needed to get at least 52% of the possible points (45 out of 86 points which scaled, last year, to between a 78 and an 84 on the test) to meet the standards to qualify as a level 4.
Of the 16 students at Success Academy who took the Algebra II Regents, none of them were able to achieve the level 5 which though it was called an 85 it is actually just 72% of the possible points (62 out of 86). Only two students scored a level 4 (which you get by getting 52% of the points for scaled score of at least a 78), officially meeting the standards. Eleven partially met the standards with a level 3. The other three of the 16 students (about 20% of them) failed outright. This is a pretty poor showing for a school that prides themselves on their math standardized test scores for the state 3-8 tests. As a math teacher who has spent a lot of time examining the different math Regents over the years, believe me on this.
As I wrote about in a post called ‘Who Survives Success’ the original two cohorts of Success Academy when they were Kindergarteners and 1st graders were 72% free lunch. These 16 students who took the Algebra II Regents, I think it is a fair assumption that these are from the 17 students who are about to become the first graduating seniors. 7 out of 16 qualify as economically disadvantaged, which is just 44%.
Also notice that the two students who got the level 4s were from the 9 students who did not qualify as economically disadvantaged. Back in 2006 this was a group of 72 first graders of which around 56 were economically disadvantaged. After 11 years, Success Academy was down to just 7 out of those 56 students and of those 7, they were not not able to claim any economically disadvantaged students to meet the standards (which were already pretty low, just needing 52%) on the Algebra II Regents.