Is NYC KIPP’s Graduation Rate 96% or 56%?

One of the dirtiest tricks played by charter schools is when they claim to have a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate.  The first use of this, to my knowledge, was when YES Prep used it to help secure $1 million from Oprah.  Over the years, it is very common to see some charter school tout a similar statistic.

When I hear about one of these 100% schools, the first thing I ask is “Is this 100% of the starting cohort, or just the senior class?”  It is always just the senior class.  Then I ask “How many students are in the senior class?”  When the number of graduating seniors is in the 30s, 20s, or even most recently in the case of Success Academy, 16, I ask “How big was the initial cohort?”

In The New York Post the other day, there was an article titled “Bronx charter school sending 96 percent of grads to college.”  The school was the one KIPP high school in New York City.  According to the article, there were 225 graduating seniors, which, at least, is much bigger than the graduating class of many of these 100% (or 96% in this case) stories.

But 96% of the graduating seniors is not 96% of the original cohort and The Post addresses this by saying  “The network said 86 percent of the original freshman class stayed on through their senior year.”

The problem with this statistic is that KIPP is a 5th to 12th grade program, not a 9th to 12th grade program.  So I went to the New York State Education Data Portal and here’s what I learned:

In the 2010 to 2011 school year there were 404 5th graders.

In the 2011 to 2012 school year there were 394 6th graders.

In the 2012 to 2013 school year there were 381 7th graders.

In the 2013 to 2014 school year there were 354 8th graders.

In the 2014 to 2015 school year there were 289 9th graders.

In the 2015 to 2016 school year there were 268 10th graders.

In the 2016 to 2017 school year there were 224 11th graders.

In the 2017 to 2018 school year there were 228 12th graders.

So while the percent of 9th graders that eventually graduated was 78% (Not the 86% claimed in the article), the percent of 5th graders that eventually graduated was just 56%.

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17 Responses to Is NYC KIPP’s Graduation Rate 96% or 56%?

  1. Richard Welles says:

    Please state ‘graduated from Success’…graduation rate fr anywhere else is unknown …also comparative graduation rates for all nyc schools/charters would be helpful

  2. Stephen Ronan says:

    “KIPP is a 5th to 12th grade program, not a 9th to 12th grade program”

    I’m a little confused trying to follow your analysis:

    Both here:
    https://www.kippnyc.org/schools/kipp-nyc-college-prep/
    and here:
    https://www.kippnyc.org/schools/
    I see reference to a 9-12 High school. KIPP NYC College Prep High School located at 201 E 144th street, Bronx, NY

    I don’t see a reference to any particular school/program that combines grades 5-12.

    What exactly would one enter in “search by name” in the upper right hand corner to get to the 5-12 program you are alluding to? At what address is it located? Or can you provide a direct link to the relevant data?

    Adding to my confusion, here: https://data.nysed.gov/gradrate.php?year=2017&instid=800000056596
    I see reference to a supposed 96% 4-year graduation rate for the most recently reported year, but that’s 48 of a cohort of just 50 (with the other two students still enrolled, and perhaps on track to also graduate).

    And here: https://data.nysed.gov/gradrate.php?year=2017&instid=800000034168
    I see reference to a supposed 94% 4-year graduation rate for the most recently reported year, but that’s 72 of a cohort of 77 (with the other five students all still enrolled, and perhaps on track to also graduate).

    Thanks for any clarification. I find the NYSED data rather more confusing, less well structured, than what we have in Massachusetts.

    • garyrubinstein says:

      KIPP has an unusual — and I think shady and possibly illegal — way of defining their schools. They have 6 middle schools and one high school. But for their records, there is no high school, but the middle schools go up to 12th grades. So the only way to get the data about the high school is to look at the separate middle schools and add up the numbers for their 9th to 12th grades. How they assign their high schoolers to the different middle schools is very suspicious. I suspect they do this in a way that can make at least one of the schools seem very successful.

      • Stephen Ronan says:

        Ah, OK, thanks, that’s helpful! So at looking at the most recently available (2017) graduation rates, I’m finding four KIPP schools that showed High School 4-year graduation rates. Relying on NYSED’s methods of defining cohorts and graduation, we see for that year:

        KIPP Academy Charter School: 72/77 graduated within 4 years, with 5 still enrolled
        KIPP Amp Charter School: 23/26, with 3 still enrolled
        KIPP Infinity Charter School: 57/61 with 2 still enrolled, 1 GED transfer and 1 dropout
        KIPP STAR College Prep: 48/50, with 2 still enrolled

        So the 5-year graduation rate for that cohort using NYSED methods couldn’t be any higher than 212/214 (99%)?

        Any corrections appreciated.

    • Steve M says:

      Ronan, you need to get over yourself and go back to misleading Massachusetts voters. Who knows how New York calculates their graduation rates…and does it really matter when you look back at KIPP New York’s enrollment numbers and get this drivel?
      2014: 85 9th graders
      2015: 46 10th graders
      2016: 74 11th graders
      2017: 75 12th graders
      It’s all a load of garbage, however you look at it

      • Stephen Ronan says:

        Steve M: “Who knows how New York calculates their graduation rates…”
        My best current understanding is that in New York, the cohort consists of all students who first entered grade 9 anywhere between July 1 and June 30 of a particular school year and then the subsequent events that determine whether any of those students become excluded from the cohort are delineated on pp. 286-288 in the SIRS manual that you’ll find here: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/sirs/archive/2016-17SIRSManual12-15.docx
        The graduates are determined as of August 31.

      • Steve M says:

        And by your kind reference I see that their graduation rate counts all students who transferred out of their school but were subsequently accounted for by enrolling in another institution (as long as proper records were kept.) In other words, they use the same damn procedures that schools around the country use, like your’s and mine.

        Looking at the data of the four NY KIPP “High Schools” we have:

        KIPP Academy Charter
        2014: 85 9th graders
        2015: 46 10th graders
        2016: 74 11th graders
        2017: 75 12th graders
        Their 95% grad rate of 85 9th graders means that 81 of their initial cadre gained a diploma at some institution…not necessarily theirs. But wait, they lost nearly half of their students after the first year…so the absolute best result they could have attained was to graduate 46 of their original 85! That’s a 54% true rate. Wow, phenomenal! Way to go! Sign me up! Oh, they backfilled, by the way. Does your charter school do that, Mr. Ronan?

        KIPP Amp Charter
        2014: 32 9th graders
        2015: 77 10th graders
        2016: 25 11th graders
        2017: 26 12th graders
        KIPP Amp had a 92% grad rate, so 29 of their original 32 kids received a diploma at SOME institution. But look, they only had 25 11th graders in 2016, so the very best they could possibly manage was to matriculate 25 of their original 32. That’s a 78% true rate, at best. Not too shabby for an inner-city school, if that’s what happened. But hey, where did 51 of the 10th graders from 2015 go? Did someone else graduate them?

        KIPP Infinity Charter
        2014: 70 9th graders
        2015: 74 10th graders
        2016: 58 11th graders
        2017: 61 12th graders
        KIPP Infinity had an 86% grad rate, meaning that 60 of their original 70 kids received a diploma somewhere. Perhaps 58 of those 60 stayed with them. You think that was the deal? Nah, me neither…

        KIPP Star Charter
        2014: 57 9th graders
        2015: 60 10th graders
        2016: 49 11th graders
        2017: 51 12th graders
        KIPP Star had an impressive 92% grad rate, meaning that 52 of the original 57 matriculated somewhere. Maybe, perhaps 49 of those 52 stayed with them. Hmm?

        Ronan, you’re just as disingenuous as Maldonado. But there’s one positive thing: I’m sure none of your charges have drowned.

      • Stephen Ronan says:

        Steve M: “I see that their graduation rate counts all students who transferred out of their school but were subsequently accounted for by enrolling in another institution (as long as proper records were kept.)”

        My reading of pp 286-288 of the SIRS manual is that codes 170, 204, and 221 all require, when calculating the graduation rate, _excluding_ from both the graduates/numerator and cohort/denominator those students who transfer, with documentation, to another NYS public school outside the district, transfer to a NYS nonpublic school, or who transfer to any school outside NYS.

        By contrast, my reading for exit enrollment code 153 “Transferred to another school in this district or to an out-of-district placement” would mean that graduates are included in both the numerator and denominator if a student transfers from one NYC district school to another NYC district school, but not included in either for the sending school if a student transfers from KIPP to a NYC district school or vice versa. I suspect that “out-of-district placement” in code 153 refers to a circumstance such as when the district retains responsibility for, pays for, the student but services are provided by a special education provider funded by the district but located physically outside the district.

        Steve M re: Kipp Academy Charter School: “Their 95% grad rate of 85 9th graders means that 81 of their initial cadre gained a diploma at some institution…not necessarily theirs.”

        Recall that NYS initially constitutes the cohort by counting the students who _first_ entered grade 9 in a particular school year. In other words if a child repeats grade 9 he remains only a part of his/her initial cohort, is not additionally added to a second cohort. I think your analysis assumes that all the 9th graders are part of a single cohort, neglecting the potential effects of grade-level retention. As you may know, I discussed with Mark Weber how front-loaded grade level retention sometimes makes one mistakenly think that children are are being lost to attrition when in reality they are being kept around for an extra year.
        http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2016/09/massachusetts-charter-schools-and-their.html
        http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2016/10/charter-school-attrition-in-ma-reader.html
        http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2016/10/more-about-attrition-rates-in-boston.html (see comments)

        I still don’t have a confident understanding of how NYS handles incoming transfers in respect to graduation rate calculations and would appreciate any explanation of that if anyone here does.

      • Stephen Ronan says:

        My response yesterday morning got kicked out to moderation, perhaps because it had three hyperlinks. So I’ll try again without those and, Gary, you can kill the first attempt if this goes through.

        Steve M: “I see that their graduation rate counts all students who transferred out of their school but were subsequently accounted for by enrolling in another institution (as long as proper records were kept.)”

        My reading of pp 286-288 of the SIRS manual is that codes 170, 204, and 221 all require, when calculating the graduation rate, _excluding_ from both the graduates/numerator and cohort/denominator those students who transfer, with documentation, to another NYS public school outside the district, transfer to a NYS nonpublic school, or who transfer to any school outside NYS.

        By contrast, my reading for exit enrollment code 153 “Transferred to another school in this district or to an out-of-district placement” would mean that graduates are included in both the numerator and denominator if a student transfers from one NYC district school to another NYC district school, but not included in either for the sending school if a student transfers from KIPP to a NYC district school or vice versa. I suspect that “out-of-district placement” in code 153 refers to a circumstance such as when the district retains responsibility for, pays for, the student but services are provided by a special education provider funded by the district but located physically outside the district.

        Steve M re: Kipp Academy Charter School: “Their 95% grad rate of 85 9th graders means that 81 of their initial cadre gained a diploma at some institution…not necessarily theirs.”

        Recall that NYS initially constitutes the cohort by counting the students who _first_ entered grade 9 in a particular school year. In other words if a child repeats grade 9 he remains only a part of his/her initial cohort, is not additionally added to a second cohort. I think your analysis assumes that all the 9th graders are part of a single cohort, neglecting the potential effects of grade-level retention. As you likely know, front-loaded grade level retention sometimes makes one mistakenly think that children are are being lost to attrition when in reality they are being kept around for an extra year.

        I still don’t have a confident understanding of how NYS handles incoming transfers in respect to graduation rate calculations and would appreciate any explanation of that if anyone here does.

      • Steve M says:

        I looked the document over again and need to correct my initial assertion that schools credit themselves for having graduated a student if they officially foist the student off on another school. They don’t receive automatic credit (as they do in Los Angeles), but it is clear that, according to the document, students transferred out with papers do not count against the school. Only those students who have the current school as their school of record (the last school officially enrolled in) are counted for graduation. What will hurt a school’s graduation rate in NYC are: student receives an IEP dimploma (085), student was forced out due to being too old (136), student was forced into another district school or out of district placement school…usually drug related (153), became gravely ill and receives home instruction (238), went into an alternative high school equivalency program (289 & 306), dropped out (340 & 357), disappeared for 20+ days (391), permanent expullsion (408), vanished (425), earned an IEP diploma prior to graduation (629), went into a GED program (1089), opportunity transfer due to being a NCLB victim (5927 & 5938), incarcerated (8338).

        If the KIPP schools’ numbers are to be taken at the word, and they were not playing shady games by shipping their kids back and forth between them [I wonder if the kids actually do move about, or if it is simply a paper shuffle; there are valid reasons for moving a student from one location to another…and sinister ones as well] then KIPP Academy would have no more than 46 of its original 85 students, but received an additional 28 ringers in the 11th grade. Similarly, if AMP is to be judged by its reported numbers then it foisted off 52 deadbeats and was able to count just 25 of their best kids. Same process with Infinity and Star. Since they do employ shady practices it is impossible to know unless one were to sit down with all of their files and sort it out. No one in his right mind would trust KIPP’s honesty.

        It’s clear that students transferring into NYC are stuck into the cohort reported on their incoming cumm files and are then the responsibility of the school that takes them in. All kids in NYC are placed into a collective cohort, it’s not done on a school by school basis: “…students are reported in the school and district where they were last enrolled as of the reporting date (4, 5, or 6 years after date of first entry in grade 9). The last enrollment record is defined as the regular enrollment record with the most recent beginning date as of the reporting date. Cohort year is determined using the date reported in the First Date of Entry into Grade 9 field in the school year when the last enrollment record occurred.”

        So, yeah, these guys are some shady characters.

  3. iseroma says:

    Thank you for this post. How is graduation rate usually calculated – is it usually by cohort? Is there a common way to calculate graduation rate in most schools?

    (I see that there were 228 12th graders but 224 11th graders, which suggests that the NY data portal isn’t keeping track of cohort percentages.)

  4. Isn’t there an agreement among states to determine high school graduation rates based on the number of students who enter the 9th grade with a few adjustments? The National Center for Educational Statistics says “yes” https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=805
    “This Fast Fact examines the percentage of public high school students who graduate on time, as measured by the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR). State education agencies calculate the ACGR by identifying the “cohort” of first-time 9th-graders in a particular school year. The cohort is then adjusted by adding any students who transfer into the cohort after 9th grade and subtracting any students who transfer out, emigrate to another country, or die. The ACGR is the percentage of students in this adjusted cohort who graduate within four years with a regular high school diploma.

  5. Pingback: Gary Rubinstein: Is NYC KIPP’s Graduation Rate 96% or 56%? | Diane Ravitch's blog

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