My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


CSAP Impressions, part II 

Inevitably, somebody will note my post from the other day, and say that they ARE making real changes with their students because they go to a charter school. So, for tonight's exercise, I've decided to look at the test scores of three charter schools to see what sort of progress they really are making with their students.

The three I've chosen will be these:
:Excel Academy, in Jefferson County, because it's close to home
:Crown Pointe Charter Academy, in Westminster 50, because it's a pretty tough area
:Twin Peaks Charter Academy, in Longmont, to get out of the Denver Metro Area

For this exercise, I will follow my own advice, and analyze according to cohort groups. So you will see me list the grade and the subject, followed by two scores--this class's score (i.e. the number of students who "pass" the test) on the same LAST year, with the score from this year. In other words, the 4th grade math scores are what that school's 3rd graders scored last year, and what the 4th graders scored this year, so we can compare apples to apples. Then I will simply mark the change in score to establish whether the students progressed from last year.

Excel Academy Elementary
4th Gr Math 83 74 -9
4th Gr Reading 77 75 -2
4th Gr Writing 60 53 -7
5th Gr Math 69 58 -11
5th Gr Reading 65 54 -11
5th Gr Writing 48 38 -10
6th Gr Math 78 72 -6
6th Gr Reading 85 81 -4
6th Gr Writing 65 58 -7

Crown Pointe Charter Academy
4th Gr Math 72 88 +16
4th Gr Reading 88 76 -12
4th Gr Writing 60 76 +16
5th Gr Math 91 88 -3
5th Gr Reading 96 81 -15
5th Gr Writing 74 77 +3
6th Gr Math 87 65 -22
6th Gr Reading 79 85 +6
6th Gr Writing 79 65 -14

Twin Peaks Charter Academy
4th Gr Math 92 86 -6
4th Gr Reading 94 84 -10
4th Gr Writing 74 76 +2
5th Gr Math 80 82 +2
5th Gr Reading 80 86 +6
5th Gr Writing 54 74 +20
6th Gr Math 64 82 +18
6th Gr Reading 86 90 +4
6th Gr Writing 82 82 n/c

Do I do this to tear down charter schools? Of course not--I'm actually a pretty big fan of charter schools. And it does need to be noted that, even with all those red numbers up there, these schools still out-score their districts by a wide margin. And any good statistician will tell you that three schools hardly makes a sample worthy of making ANY conclusions from.

That said, my larger point is this: there is no panacea out there. SOME charter schools are excellent, and make dramatic improvements in their children's performance; and some charter schools are somewhat disappointing, and unable to buck the trends of schools in general.

And it also needs to be said that there are many "regular" public schools that show significant improvement in their students' performance from year-to-year, also.

But the overall trends are disappointing.

For what it's worth, Twin Peaks was ranked with "Improvement" in terms of academic growth by the state; Crown Pointe was ranked "Significant Improvement"; and Excel was ranked "Stable." There's also one school whose numbers I was looking at earlier today whose scores were all "in the black," but somehow the state labeled it "Decline."

So if you're a person who looks for the labels the Big Education establishment puts on schools, you may want to look a little deeper.

The numbers don't always support the labels.

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