Harlem kids win big in school lottery

Winning the lottery to get into the Harlem Success Academy charter school is a very big win indeed, concludes a University of Pennsylvania study by Jonathan Supovitz and Sam Rikoon, education professors.

Students who won the first-grade lottery were compared to students who applied but lost out and stayed in district-run schools. By third grade, the HSA students performed 48 points higher in math and 35 points higher in reading than the lottery losers. That’s roughly 13 percent higher.

HSA students scored 19 percent higher than similar third graders in neighborhood schools.

Harlem Success Academy is featured in two new documentaries, The Lottery and Waiting for Superman, notes Education News.

Both films view the enrollment lottery from the eyes of parents who believe that winning a spot in the high performing public charter school is the key to their child’s future.

Which may be true.

Last year, 7,000 students applied for 1,100 spaces at Success Academy schools in Harlem and the South Bronx. That means there are a lot of motivated parents whose children lost the lottery.

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Comments

  1. Why is it a great loss? What is the charter school doing that is not being done in the public schools? A better question is what is being done at the charter that various factions refuse to do in the public schools. While I believe that the over all results of charter schools are still mixed at best; there are some clearly identifiable best practices that could really impact public education. If we are brave enough to let them

  2. 1100 students, but only 79 of them were in this study. And of that 79, 24% (19) were no longer at HSA. Attrition, anyone?

    “Fewer students were identified as as Special Education students at HSA (15%) than either those who were not admitted in the lottery to attend HSA (24%) or in other schools (21%).”

    In other words, the kids who weren’t selected were over 50% more likely to be Special Ed than those who were.

    If that number holds up all the time, someone’s cooking the books.

    Then, why is it that all the better news in charter school comparisons come from younger kids? Could it be because elementary school involves learning the same thing over and over, and the kids with a better environment learn the same things more quickly? That’s great news if true (see previous caveats) but where’s the proof that these same kids then do significantly better in algebra and SAT tests?

    Finally, did HSA eliminate the achievement gap, or are these kids still scoring well below white and Asian kids (and I’d like the comparison in actual scores, not percent at a given and very low NY standard).

  3. Stacy & Conor (13 yo son) says:

    “In other words, the kids who weren’t selected were over 50% more likely to be Special Ed than those who were.”

    No, Cal. They were 50% more likely to be IDENTIFIED as SE. Could it be that the kids at HSA are less likely to be identified because the receive better instruction and have more success?

  4. The more I read, the more I think that SE is likely to be “not properly taught” in the case of most LDs (dsylexia is an exception) and a school climate that tends to see boys as defective girls in most ADHD cases. The curriculum and instruction changes over the last few decades have also rendered the classroom less boy-friendly and less friendly to many girls (including my daughter). An endless diet of artsy projects and chick lit is pretty cloying and assignments focused on feelings and the writing of stories are worse. We’ve created several generations of kids who don’t know the difference between “I think” and “I feel” and who have little grasp of the disciplines.

  5. They were 50% more likely to be IDENTIFIED as SE. Could it be that the kids at HSA are less likely to be identified because the receive better instruction and have more success?

    Or, maybe, they are less likely to be identified at HSA because sped kids are more expensive? Or, maybe, the kids who were genuinely sped left the school because they didn’t get the support they needed? There are all sorts of possibilities for that discrepancy–including accurate diagnosis and sheer random chance.

    And the big attrition rate is another problem, of course.

    We’ve created several generations of kids who don’t know the difference between “I think” and “I feel” and who have little grasp of the disciplines.

    That’s a suburban education issue, which is so not what the issue is here.

  6. HSA isn’t concerned with knowledge of the disciplines or the ability to take a position on issues and support it with such knowledge? If not, why not? Isn’t that supposed to be a fundamental aspect of education? I’ve never heard it dismissed as a “suburban issue.”

  7. HSA isn’t concerned with knowledge of the disciplines or the ability to take a position on issues and support it with such knowledge? If not, why not?

    In first through third grade? In a population where just knowing how to read and the addition tables through 12 is normally far ahead of the learning curve at that age? Jeez, can’t think why not.

  8. OK, I admit that I didn’t know until just now that it only went through grade 4. However, I hope they are incorporating science, geography and history into their curriculum, which I hope includes real phonics, arithmetic, spelling, composition and lots of good literature.

  9. Cal, you have to know that attrition rates are high in all inner city schools. Is HSA’s higher then neighboring public schools? Probably not.

    You’re right that there maybe multiple reasons why fewer students are identified as SE at HSA. Leveling the typical union accusation of cherry picking with little emperical evidence it weak though.

  10. Oh, please. I hate unions.

    Is HSA’s higher then neighboring public schools?

    Do they replace the kids who leave with other kids from the lottery? If so, no objection. If not, then the likelihood that the kids leaving are low performers is very high.

  11. Oh, please. I hate unions.

    Har! Of course you do. You just happen, out of a deep-seated desire to prevent the blemish-free institution of public education from going down the wrong path, to parrot union positions.

  12. Sin and cosine graphs meet up every 90 degrees, no matter what.

    Here’s what I pointed out:

    1. The special ed ratios were off.

    2. A fourth of the HSA kids left the school.

    Apparently, your position is that blind ignorance and idiocy about data and selection bias are the only way one can support charters. Which is odd, because I see that sort of thing in union hacks all the time. But whatever works.

    Focus hard. I am not pro-union. I am not pro-charter. I am pro-a-pox-on-all-your-houses. I am pro-acceptance of the reality that eliminating the achievement gap or dramatically improving educational outcomes in low income minority populations will not happen by the happy talk of either unions or chaters.

    Therefore, any study that purports to show otherwise makes me extremely skeptical. In all cases, there’s something to question. This study is no exception.

  13. Cal, I’m not sure who you’re addressing here, so I’ll respond as if it’s me.

    You point out two pieces of information that lead to you the conclusion that “someone’s cooking the books”. I simply think that’s a pretty gross jump in logic. These items MAY be an indication of less then ideal situation, or they may be easily explanable by further investigation. Either way, concluding ill purpose is not justified.

  14. You point out two pieces of information that lead to you the conclusion that “someone’s cooking the books”.

    I most certainly did not. I pointed out what I thought was a discrepancy in accepted students and said IF the numbers continue, then someone is cooking the books.

    You observed that the diagnosis comes after they are accepted. If that’s true, it seems obvious that the original possibility I raised is a non-issue. Alas, in that case, there are other possibilities–which I pointed out. Those weren’t “cooking the book” charges, but rather common incentives that would need to be investigated.

    Look. No matter how you look at it, the discrepancy in sped students needs to be explained. You raised one possibility that doesn’t cast doubt on HSA. It’s not a very likely one, but it is possible. The others that I raised are more likely, and common problems. But in any case, I never raised the charge of cooking the books (that is, cherry picking on the way in) after you argued that the students were identified as sped after admission.

    Either way, concluding ill purpose is not justified.

    I never concluded it. I merely raised it as a possibility. A far more likely one than yours.

  15. “I never concluded it. I merely raised it as a possibility. A far more likely one than yours.”

    How do you know it’s far more likely? Asserting that it’s more likely doesn’t make it true.

    While I think some skepticism about the performance of HSA is rational and even necessary, the scant data you use to “raise the possibility” (conviction by implication) is weak.

    What kind of teacher are you? You need to adequately support your argument.

  16. How do you know it’s far more likely? Asserting that it’s more likely doesn’t make it true.

    Because attrition is an established reality that accounts for some percentage of charter schools’ higher performance, and because charter schools have a well-established pattern of doing their best to skate sped diagnoses to save money. Public schools, on the other hand, are already paying a fortune to a host of sped specialists so don’t have that same incentive (at least in the schools under discussion).

    Don’t you know this? Really, if you don’t understand the basic incentives of charter schools, then why are you in the discussion?

    None of this means that HSA’s gains aren’t genuine, but it tilts the interpretation towards that end. There’s no data showing charter schools hanging onto all their students, nor any data showing charter schools being aggressive in giving sped kids more help.

    What does the type of teacher I am have to do with this conversation? This is a conversation about data. I’m not the sort who confuses my own experience with large-scale results. Alas, most of the other commenters here are prone to exactly that sort of nonsense.

    I teach high school math, english, and history.

  17. “Because attrition is an established reality that accounts for some percentage of charter schools’ higher performance, and because charter schools have a well-established pattern of doing their best to skate sped diagnoses to save money.”

    This is the standard anti-charter spiel. Prove it. Where’s your data? You site nothing other than your own opinion.

    “Don’t you know this? Really, if you don’t understand the basic incentives of charter schools, then why are you in the discussion?”

    Cal, You’re use of “basic incentive of charter schools” is vague and meaningless. There are a whole lot of “basic incentive” associated with charter schools. Some of them relate to this discussion, some don’t.

    Since you’re not the type of individual that confuses your experience with large scale results, why don’t you provide links to studies that illustrate the points you have asserted?

  18. You site nothing other than your own opinion.

    That’s “cite”, and it’s not my opinion. It’s a fact that charter schools have attrition. The reason for the attrition is open to interpretation, but that the attrition exists is indisputable. If you don’t know about the KIPP study, for starters, read up. This HSA study has 24% attrition, or didn’t you notice–or interpret the several times I mentioned it?

    You’re not asking for support. You’re asking to be educated. Do it yourself.

  19. You had two points originally, Cal.

    You’re first being that attrition rates were higher at HSA; the second being that SE was underserved.

    I’m familiar with the KIPP study. It looked at a handful of KIPP schools in the San Fran area. That’s hardly a comprehensive study of charters. It addressed only KIPP and only one small sample. It hardly proves anything about charters in general and HSA in particular. AND it only addressed the issue of attrition, not SE.

    Try again.

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