January 7, 2013

Charter school con: dumping problem students

WTOP, DC - The District of Columbia's public charter schools are expelling students at a far higher rate for discipline violations than the traditional public schools.

An analysis by The Washington Post ( http://wapo.st/UAS8p4) found charter schools expelled 676 students over the past three years, while the traditional public schools expelled 24 students.

Charter schools have more latitude in deciding what student behavior they will not tolerate. Parents and activists say some charter schools expel students mid-year. Those students then enroll in public schools, which are legally bound to take them.

Gail Robinson, Inside Ed -
Many uptown Manhattan parents hope that winning the lottery for a seat at Harlem Success Academy I will put their child on the path to academic achievement. But just because a child gets into Harlem Success does not mean he or she will complete 5th grade there. The school -- part of Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy network -- has a high attrition rate, leading critics to charge that the school may push out low achieving or difficult students.

Harlem Success denies that's the case, and says the attrition can be explained by children moving away--or even skipping a grade. Without better data from the state, it's impossible to say who is right. But one thing is certain: Harlem Success loses a lot of kids between kindergarten and 5th grade.

According to figures on the school's New York State Report Card, 83 students entered kindergarten in 2006-07, the school's first year of operation. When that class reached 4th grade in 2010-11, it had only 53 students -- a drop of 36 percent. Harlem Success also took in a 1st grade class with 73 students in 2006. When that group reached 5th grade, it too had shrunk appreciably -- by 36 percent.

The attrition accelerated as the classes advanced. The 2006-07 1st grade class, for example, did not shrink at all as it entered 2nd grade, but saw one sharp falloff between 2nd and 3rd and another between 4th and 5th.

So far, following classes have not shown a similar decline. The 2007-08 kindergarten started out with 123 students, increased to 127 the following year and then fell back to 117 by the time it reached 3rd grade in 2010-11.

The United Federation of Teachers charges that the school may weed out students before they take standardized tests at the end of 3rd grade. Citing Harlem Success's attrition during a panel discussion on charter schools sponsored by the New York City Bar Association, UFT vice president Leo Casey said, "All of the students who would have brought down the statistics are gone."

In a subsequent email, Casey wrote, "It may be significant that the bulk of the attrition at Harlem Success Academy 1 seems to have come in the tested grades."


Strelnikov said...

As a private school survivor, I can tell you they ALWAYS dump the problem kids, especially the ones who have "attitude problems." However, if you are a pleasant sponge with a bland personality, they will go out of their way to keep you, even if you are the shittiest student in the universe.

Anonymous said...

Of course private schools have always dumped problem students, but they usually haven't done it on the public's dime, and that makes all the difference.