Charter ISAT Performance 2012
I am on an ongoing quest to figure out whether charters are actually “better” than non-charter schools. The mayor and Brizard seem to think so. School Reformers definitely think so. The “Waiting for Superman” movie seems to think so.
On the other hand, I see comments a lot of about the underperforming. I’ve read more than my fair share of research reports (my fair share being fairly low number.) So far I have been left with the answer “it depends.” Some do well. Other do not. They seem to show an uneven performance that doesn’t necssarily justify large scale expansion without some serious selection efforts. Being a Charter alone doesn’t guarantee success in terms of test scores. On the other hand, perhaps the kids who attend these schools would have done worse if they had gone to their neighborhood school.
We all know the selection bias (parents willing to make the effort to apply, get their kids to the school, comply with the rules) probably plays a factor and I can’t account for that here.
But I decided to rank the schools on the new 2011 ISAT meets/exceed scores and place all the school into quintiles. For those who are bad at math, that means I divided the scores into fifths, to see which schools are in the top quintile (top 20%, and each subsequent quintile.) If charters perform the SAME as non-charters, we’d expect to see 20/20/20/20/20% across the quintiles.
In fact, the charter fare better than we’d expect by chance/natural rank. Few charters are in the bottom 2 quintiles than you’d expect.
For scores with ESL the distribution is:
18% Top Quintile
30% Middle Quintile
8% Bottom Quintile
For scores without ESL the distribution is:
18% Top Quintile
23% Middle Quintile
12% Bottom Quintile
The ranking that include ESL look slightly better than those without ESL.
I think the question we’d all like to know is how some of these charters would perform if they got a group of neighborhood kids and had to keep those kids no matter what. THAT is the test I’d like to see.
In any case, CICS Irving Park is easily on par with many of the top city schools. (It also has a fairly low % of low income kids.) CICS West Belden does very well, especially considering it is 95% low income (92% Hispanic.) UNO Torres at #3 is also mostly Hispanic. Noble Comer is almost all Af-American.
It’s hard to identify why the Bottom Quintile schools are down there without knowing more about them. Disappointing to see Quest on the list, but like CICS Hawkins, it’s harder to get good scores when you haven’t been teaching the kids for the previous 7 years.
So my next question is whether these are basically performing like magnets — succeeding because of selection bias. Or does it not matter. If I’m a Hispanic parent, I could be pretty excited about those numbers for some of the mostly Hispanic schools compared to the typical achievement gap scene in CPS.
I think the range of results, even within each operator, is interesting. Why does CICS or UNO or whoever perform really well in some locations and not others? How can CPS predict which new charters will succeed?
Entry filed under: Charter schools.