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Report: Oakland charters outshine district schools

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 at 11:21 am in achievement gap, charter schools, elementary schools, English learners, families, high schools, middle schools, OUSD central office, school reform, students, test scores.


Tribune file photo of Lighthouse Community Charter School by Ray Chavez

It might not come as a surprise that a new report by the California Charter Schools Association has found that Oakland’s independently run, publicly financed charter schools are doing better than the city’s traditional public schools.

The report does analyze state test scores in great depth, though, breaking down the results by grade-level, race and economic status. It even matches each charter with two or three district schools (within five miles) that have comparable demographics. In 22 out of 32 cases, the charter school had a higher API score than the similar district schools averaged.

You can find a summary of the report here. The individual charter/traditional school comparisons here. The entire report here.

The OUSD charter office’s Web site also has some interesting information about the number of charters approved, the number revoked, etc.

What do you make of this analysis, and what does it say about the charter school movement? Do you think its results should — or will — influence the policies of the Oakland school board and staff with respect to charters?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • http://www.omiacademy.org Mark Ryan

    The Oakland Military Institute (OMI) College Prep Academy is having our Open House Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10AM. We are located at 3877 Lusk Street in Oakland near the corner of Market and 40th.

    OMI send 75% or more of our graduates to four year colleges and universities. We offer a full array of AP courses and all students complete the requirements for entrance into the UC/CSU systems. We invite all students interested in enrolling in grades 6-12 in the Fall of 2009 to come with their families to the OPEN HOUSE on Saturday February 28, 2009 at 10AM. We hope to see you there.

  • Brian Rogers

    This should be a wake-up call to the district and the teacher union leadership that unless they work together to change their bureaucratic status quo ways, they are going to continue to lose students to the more flexible, less regulated, and (now) more successful charter schools. Oakland charters now represent approximately 18% of Oakland families, which means that 18% of Oakland families are choosing to leave the district or choosing a charter over the distrct because of perceived advantages for their children. Why are parents and students voting with their feet? Charter public schools enable school leaders to make financial decisions about what is best for their school (their hands are not tied by many of the regulated funding streams that the districet schools face), they allow for freedom in the choice of how to teach the state curriculum, they allow the community to be a part of the school’s decision making process by requiring a board of directors to help oversee the strategic direction and fundraising of the school, and they allow school leaders to hire and fire the teachers that they need, not whomever the district sends their way because of terms negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement.
    The Oakland Unified School District has made some great strides in terms of student acheivement growth over the last four years. Yet, according to this report, many more charters are having a greater effect on student academic outcomes. Maybe it is time for the district to do some thinking about why charters are more successful and how they might be able to learn some best practices and policies from the charter schools.

  • http://www.myschool.org/oakland Peter Hanley

    The Oakland charter community is hosting open houses at their sites throughout Oakland on Thursday, February 12. We have 18 schools participating and others will have open houses on other dates. Everyone is welcome to visit these schools and learn about the opportunities they offer to Oakland’s families and students. For more details, please visit:

    http://www.myschool.org/oakland

  • Anon79

    While I believe that there are some great things happening at some charter schools, reports like this should have *’s all over the place. Charter schools are allowed to operate under guidelines which district schools legally can not. Here are just two examples: first, many charter schools do not allow new students into the school after the initial grade of that school, nor do they allow enrollment after the school year begins. While I understand this is great for the school so that it can build a community, it certainly is not the reality for Oakland nor is it what I think “public” schools are supposed to provide. Public schools have the obligation to educate the foster student who is on his/her 4th group home and moves into Oakland in October, along with the student who just moved into the country in January, etc… I don’t think most charter schools even try to educate this population. Second, many students from charters who are either asked to leave, told “this isn’t the right fit,” DHP’d, or expelled end up in the school which this report is comparing the charter school to. Perhaps the district can learn from the charter schools “best practices” and simply move the most challenging children somewhere else… oh right, that’s not OK. Districts have an obligation to educate all students- or at least try to. I’d like to see students who get expelled from one charter school end up at another, but I doubt that will happen any time soon.

    That said, there is a lot that OUSD can and should learn from charter schools about what some students need to be successful- a longer school day, a longer school year, and more flexible HR practices are a few examples.

  • TheTruthHurts

    The real impact will be with parents who didn’t need much convincing to begin with. We’ve got to clean up our act of face the consequences.

  • SecondYearTeacher

    I want to heartily agree with Anon79. I work at a “small school” in East Oakland, and we share our campus with a charter school. We routinely get students showing up at our school mid-year who have been kicked out of the charter school next door, and show up at our door the next morning. The question of whether charter schools truly educate all students is an important one that cannot be ignored.

    With that said, I am currently applying to charter schools for next year, because I am so sick of all the OUSD bureaucratic bull. This district is terribly frustrating to work for. Simple payroll and HR issues can take months to resolve, not to mention all the incompetent people at the school and district level who get to keep their positions when they really should fired! I heartily support public education, and NEVER thought I would contemplate working for a charter school when I got my credential. Only 2 years in OUSD, and I am already starting to change my mind!

  • district employee

    I’ll bet a comparison of OUSD’s and Oakland charters’ APIs would be a lot more compelling if both had the ability to (however gently and voluntarily) “kick out” low-performing students before the CST testing window.

    I also think it would be more appropriate to compare the bureaucracies if the HR and payroll departments both had 9 different union bargaining units to keep track of.

    Just sayin’.

  • Susan

    If you look at the charter comparison, there is some glaring points that were nor addressed. Of the top 10 schools, five were charters, correct? But look closer, those 5 are from the same school system, (Oakland Charter Academy, and American Indian). Their reputation for their methods to running a school are atrocious, but this report is solely about test scores.

    I have heard those schools and their leaders, do not even support most of the charters in the city, But since the Charter School Union is going to brag and lump these cluster of schools as the torch for charter success, what about schools like Arise High School, and Aviation? Arise is a 488 API? How does that happen? Its so pathetic that even OUSD alternative education schools top them. Look closeley at the report, there are MANY charter schools, and to be honest, district schools, that score below a optimal level.

    My hats, off to OCA and AIPCS schools, though I have my skepticism about them,OUSD does need to address their issues with bureaucracy low performance. But as the report demonstrates, once scores are analyzed, other than pne school system, chartsr schools are not the answer for Oaklands educational ills either.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Anon79 says it well. This report doesn’t show that charters (even the highest scoring) do a better job of educating students, only that they attract high scoring students. To measure the quality of the education that is provided you would need matched scores for students over several years.
    There are also some strange selections of schools to compare. American Indian Public Charter, for example, would be as close to Brewer, Bret Harte, and Montera, as to Frick and Madison, and those schools would have been at least somewhat closer demographically.

  • Newshound

    You are absolutely right in saying that not all charters are outperforming. Newer schools such as Arise and Aviation know they have work to do. And if they don’t, they will get shut down.

    But most of the charters ARE doing better than their district counterparts. And they are not counseling out students any more than a district school does where the fit is not right. There are plenty of district schools with a high mobility rate — those students are often just moving schools, not leaving town. Often times, the school staff suggests the move.

    No, charters are succeeding because of longer school days or years, because the teaching and admin staff are happier, and because they do not have a district “managing” them.

    Also, if you look at the report, it is clearly not just Oakland Charter Academy and American Indian that are outperforming.

    Take East Bay Conservation Corps Charter, which is doing better than MLK and Lafayette, but not quite as well as Piedmont Avenue Elementary. Their average API is 23 points more than those three district schools.

    Or take Monarch Academy, out on 99th Ave. At 776 on the API, Monarch is doing 102 points better than its counterparts Rise, Garfield and Stonehurst.

    Lighthouse Community Charter School is another school that is improving quickly. Their API just shot up to 758 this year, that’s more than 70 points. So now they are doing quite a bit better than Sankofa, Santa Fe Elementary and MLK Elementary.

    I could go on, but you get the point…..

  • Oakland Teacher

    “And they are not counseling out students any more than a district school does where the fit is not right. There are plenty of district schools with a high mobility rate — those students are often just moving schools, not leaving town. Often times, the school staff suggests the move.”

    I must comment on Newshound’s statement that district schools suggest students leave when the “fit is not right.” I have worked in Oakland schools for over 10 years and NEVER seen a school suggest the fit is not right. Regardless of what student needs/behaviors are, regardless of the skills/language they bring, regardless of what month of the year they arrive, regardless of their prior experience, regardless of how many times they have switched foster homes, we work with them. It would go against everything we stand for to suggest they go elsewhere!

  • ProStudent

    Thanks Anon79. That’s the data that is not in the report. Are the charter schools really serving children better or are parents that are more proactive, more knowledgeable, more connected sending their children to charter schools?

    This can’t be an us and them issue? We’re all working together to educate our children . . . I think part of the problem is that idea of schools as corporations to compete with each other, and open and shut down at will. Schools are also supposed to be pillars of the community. My concern with charter schools is that they start up with one or two passionate leaders and as long as that passionate leader stays they do well but when they get burnt out–which they do, there go the test scores and the school.

  • Mr. G

    Oakland public schools need to stop going from pillar to post before they can be pillars of the community.

    Say what you want about charters, people do vote with their feet. And despite the best efforts of OUSD, 18% of Oakland students now attend charter schools. Could it be that the good Oakland charter schools aren’t as bad as their reputations (at least on this blog) seem to suggest?

  • Fruitvale Res

    I have a dog in this fight – so I will continue to watch the comments. But I have to make one note. Yesterday our charter school enrolled a 9th grade student from an OUSD high school. I met with the parent to discuss why they were looking for a school mid year – especially a high school. The father had met with his daughter’s counselor who told him it would be better to leave the school. When asked again, the father affirmed that they were strongly encouraged to look for a new smaller school. This has happened in the winter and spring every year our school has operated. I don’t know or speculate upon the motive. It just happens – across the board.

    I am only sharing this to reaffirm my beliefs…

    The vast majority of people who commit to working in public schools (which include charters), do so with noble intentions and commitments. At the same time, the system is so large and people dependent that we cannot make blanket statements that accurately reflect what is really happening on the ground at every school. To me – there is no evil doer in this effort – just a bunch of public schools trying to best serve Oakland youth.

  • ForChildren

    The most compelling part of this report was the “Matched Comparison Analysis” which compared Oakland charters to the district public schools that were the most similar (using factors such as racial composition, parent education level, number of participants in the Free/ Reduced Price lunch and school size). That part of the report showed that 69% of charter schools outperformed the schools most like them in the district.

    The argument that charters do better because they do not serve the same types of children is simply not true and the “Matched Comparison” data proves that it isn’t true.

    In reading these comments, it occurs to me that the comments attacking charter schools are misguided. These comments seem to stem from frustration with the traditional public school system and a feeling of powerlessness to make changes.

    These feelings of frustration and powerlessness are what has driven hundreds of thousands of people – school leaders, teachers, parents – to start charter schools or enroll their children in charter schools.

    To the people who attack charter schools – why not use that energy to help change public education for all students. You can make changes to improve public education. You are not powerless. You can make change either by pushing for changes in the traditional system to help traditional schools get similar freedoms to charter schools so they are able to serve their students well or you could join the charter school movement.

    We are all in this together. Bottom line – this is about children. Instead of attacking charter schools why not learn why some successfully serve students that the traditional public school system has historically failed.

  • Donna

    The charter school report cherry-picked a lot of data and left out some significant information. For example, the American Indian middle school is predominantly Asian AND those Asians speak English, which skews the data dramatically. That is not necessarily the case in the report’s *comparable* schools, or even the schools that Steven Weinberg (above) and I would say are closer demographically.

    I am not surprised, however, that the American Indian school kids score well. They have a very long school day, so have more learning hours available. Also, they and their parents are required to *buy in* to a highly rigid philosophy and system.

    Finally, another point I have never seen addressed, but a practice that several kids have mentioned to me: At some schools, a number of kids basically opt out of taking the standardized tests by warming their seats but filling out bubbles in random patterns or just filling all *A*s or whatever. This could be a face saving way for some kids to avoid their very real struggles with these tests, but maybe not for others. The rationale is that these tests don’t *count*, at least not for their personal grades. I wonder how pervasive this is?

  • oakteach

    We received 9 students from one of the “high performing” charter “schools” on this list in the month of January. All were asked to leave for some form of academic reason. All 9 are far below or below on at least one section of the CST (a primary factor of API).
    Similarly, last year we received 15 in two months before testing (20% of our grade).

    Who are they kidding? Educators or sieves?

    Show me a ranking with individual student scale score increases. Are they moving the kids they get academically? Or just filtering?

  • Jose, Former Student

    Oakteach,

    If this is true, you should turn the school into the charter office.

    Do you realize if students come to your school two months before the test they count against the school they left? Therefore, your school’s test scores are based on your student’s test results.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Unless the rule is being changed for this year’s test, students who have not been continually enrolled in the same school since early October do not count for either their old school or their new school when APIs and AYPs are calculated. Jose, if you have more recent information, please post it. Sometimes changes take place that those of us at school sites don’t hear about.
    Even though new students booted out of charter schools and neighboring districts just before testing do not count in our scores, they do negatively affect class size and instruction in the crucial period leading up to testing.

  • Peter

    First of all, let me say that I agree with “forChildren”s statement that we are all in this together… education is a mission, not a competition. However, the charter movement is based on the idea of competition, hence the report they released. Why is this a problem? For one, in a competition, there must be a loser. Do we all agree that some schools & students should lose? Secondly, a competition or market without rules and regulations means everyone loses (see current economy)—how can a school “compete” with a charter that doesn’t accept special education students, or expels students for no legal reason? The lines outside the enrollment office bulge every year as testing nears, with students who are not welcome to test at the school they have attended since the start of the year.
    Secondly, “ForChildren” remarks that the most compelling part of the report is the “matched comparison analysis,” but in fact it is the least compelling indeed. Two schools are compared to Calvin Simmons, which closed three years ago. I also searched the document for my school, Westlake (OUSD, API 680), and found it nowhere. Meanwhile, the closest charter, Bay Tech (which tried to take 7 classrooms at our site for this school year), is compared to Bret Harte in East Oakland and Cole, which closes this year. We are 1.6 miles away, but perhaps since our scores are higher we are not listed. In fact, looking deeper, no charter is compared to any of the highest scoring middle schools (Brewer, Montera, Westlake), nor the highest scoring high schools (Skyline, Oakland High), and charters are repeatedly not compared to the closest public schools.
    All in all, the report is disheartening, my own biases aside: first, to think of education as a competition, and secondly to think that those who wish to compete are not willing to play fair and honestly, yet very willing to claim victory. (This does not even address the specious argument that API scores are the best way to judge schools, or the fact that the report does not address score growth).
    I sincerely hope that all who read this report take it with a very large grain of salt and to think as critically as we teach these children to do.

  • ProStudent

    Fruitvale Res,
    This affirms the problem . . . if “well meaning” counselors are telling students that they see with potential “you should go to a charter school” how does that help all Oakland children. You end up with a school that is unbalanced. With the most needy children, they’re just ramping up the paperwork to send them to juvenile hall.

  • susan

    I agree with Peter. Shouldn’t Lighthouse School be compared against Lincoln Elementary which is right around the corner? They outperform Lighthouse school by nearly 200 points! Or how about Oasis charter against Oakland Tech?

    This report was very selective as with everything that comes out of the charter schools union. This is what this organization is correct? A members based organization who fights for the rights of charters. Sound familiar?

    It is ironic that charter schools who started in 1994 In Oakland against teachers unions is now part of a union. This report should be viewed through the same lens as something the OEA or CTA puts out in support of union representation. Time and time again members of this charter school union have spoken on behalf of or supported many charter schools in OUSD that have been terrible failures.

    I attend board meetings and was there when CCSA union members and supporters all wore hats and buttons (similar to union propaganda) in support of Aviation High School.” A model school” members of the CCSA union described it as. Has anyone seen their scores?! WOW! This is a model?

    As they are, we need to be sharp in contesting this union because they are backed by millionaire supporters who could care less about Oakland.

  • Sharon

    Why would any intelligent person believe a pro-charter report issued by a pro-charter organization?

    In addition, AIPCS’s credibility is completely shot for me because I know some additional details about the school.

    To start with, I’ve known for years that the school’s practice is to target and heavily recruit, and then admit, top performing students from Laurel and Fruitvale Elementary. The denial to AIPCS’s recent petition request for another charter school contains data which verifies this.

    To view this document go to http://www.ousdcharters.com/announcements.html scroll to OCTOBER 29, locate American Indian Public Charter-American Indian Model Charter Petition Request: DENIED, and click to view the staff report.

    I also know a case where the former director intentionally misstated facts at a parent information meeting in order to persuade a set of specific Chinese-only speaking parents to select his school. One of his students was asked to translate that fabrication. The child felt very uncomfortable lying to the families, but submitted and complied because that director was such a bullying-type who is prone to verbally abusive outbreaks.

    The parent of the child was very upset when they found out about this incident and reported it to me. We have a close personal relationship. What other misinformation has been presented to this school’s targeted prospective parents over the years, I can only guess.

  • Sharon

    More AIPCS shenanigans are revealed in this letter found at http://novometro.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/aipcs-letter_5-22-07-f.pdf

    To: President, Governing Board, American Indian Public Charter School
    From: Kristen Vital
    RE: Accusations concerning AIPCS Director

  • Sharon

    Another questionable practice at AIPCS was the administration of weekly state exam practice tests. The director proudly told me that this was part of the school’s routine when I visited the school several years ago. I’ve been informed that this extreme degree of test prep is not permitted by the state.

    As far as the school’s accomplishments go, one would think that a school which produced an API higher than Piedmont High (958 vs. 912) would also produce higher PSAT scores. This is not the case. For AIPHS the PSAT scores were 49.3 (Math), 45.6 (Writing), and 41.8 (Reading), for a total score of 136.7. For Piedmont High they were 60.1 (Math), 60.9 (Writing), and 58.2 (Reading), for a total score of 179.2.

    AICPS follows its own set of rules, and I just don’t see how anyone can buy their claims. Because of their shady practices, AIPCS’s test scores should definitely be disqualified from being included in the test results of the charter schools.

    It’s too bad OUSD hasn’t called them on this nonsense before now. Their antics aren’t doing the charter movement any favors, as far as I’m concerned.

  • John

    “Shouldn’t Lighthouse School be compared against Lincoln Elementary which is right around the corner?”

    Yes, but only if Lighthouse School has the same Asian demographic as Lincoln. If Lighthouse demographics represent a hard core Affirmative Action (Afro American and Latino) demographic and academically performs at a level comparable to Lincoln I say HALLALEUAH brothers and sisters. Drop them prayer books and clap your hands and stomp your feet!

  • Fruitvale Res

    Just to answer the Lincoln v. Lighthouse comparison – I pulled this from CDE…

    Lighthouse (K-8) Enrollment %s
    Hispanic / Latino – 68
    African American – 18
    Asian – 9
    White – 4
    Free or reduced lunch – 80
    English Language Learners – 67 (90% of them Spanish speakers)

    Lincoln (K-5) Enrollment %s
    Hispanic / Latino – 1
    African American – 2
    Asian – 93
    White – 1
    Free or reduced lunch – 80
    English Language Learners – 59 (89% of them Cantonese speakers)

    Come to your own conclusions if they should be compared.

  • Jose, Former Student

    Sharon,

    You made a great point about the PSAT scores at the Indian school and Piedmont High school.

    I found out that all the student in 9-12 at American Indian are required to take the PSAT. This is not the case at Piedmont High school. The staff these school were happy to answer my questions about the PSAT. Do you think this could have an impact on the average PSAT scores of the two schools?

    At Skyline High School, there were very few of us who took the PSAT about four years ago. My bother said, the new principal at Skyline encourages all the students to take the PSAT and SAT. I think it will benifit the students in the long run.

    What is the deal between you and the Director of the Indian school?

  • Catherine

    Charter schools will always have an opening when the needs of whole groups of students are not being met.

    What I will consider a success is when the GATE students have a charter school and the scores are taken out of the system as a whole. What I see in many OUSD elementary schools is GATE kids are given the same assignments, homework, tests as the general population and they are not learning year for year what the mainstream kids are learning. Take out the GATE kids, their money, their parents expertise and time and the district will howl. However, the district is not willing to enforce the law – which is that every child deserves to be educated to the child’s ability.

    Each school board member has been asked on multiple occasions to assist in the educating of the GATE students. The charter will come, the students and scores will go and the Board will ask “What happened?”

  • Sharon

    Jose: Yes, I am absolutely certain that average PSAT scores would be impacted for the better if the students are self-selected, just as CST scores would be impacted in the same way at a school filled with children of parents who have self-selected. The second category is the absolutely the case for charter schools. By the way, a high percentage (89%) of the Piedmont seniors self-selected to take the SAT during 2006-07.

    The parents who seek out charter schools for their children are a specific type, and this is a type who is more likely to stress the importance of education to their children and to support the mission of the school in their homes. Whether or not they are low-income, or of any particular ethnic or racial group, these parents are the ones who are wired to put additional effort toward their children’s learning. This is what separates them from other members of their group, and in that sense they are the cream of that parent crop. And yes, I believe that their children are more likely to produce greater academic achievement than the children who happen to have been born to parents who do not have a similar focus.

    It does not compute for me that a high school which produces the highest API in Alameda County seems to also be incapable of producing better PSAT scores. The power of the API, a measurement which indicates years of accumulated knowledge, should have carried its students along much better than that. The alarm bell is sounding. A cursory look at some of the data indicates the degree of misalignment.

    PSAT scores can generally predict SAT scores; that’s their whole point. Using the available PSAT scores from AIPHS (from their website) would predict a total SAT score of 1367. So while the API of AIPHS ranks #1 when compared to the other top performing Alameda County comprehensive public high schools, an extrapolation shows it to be dead last when it comes to SAT scores. Here are the API/SAT scores for 2006-07: AIPHS is 940/1367(est.), Mission San Jose in Fremont is 927/1873, Piedmont is 896/1858, Foothill High in Pleasanton is 884/1681, Albany High is 832/1725. Except for AIPHS, the relationship between API and SAT is consistent.

    Now, as far as having my having a beef with the director of AIPCS or not, I would only say that when an individual and his school are so enthusiastically lauded for their accomplishments on a national level, as is the case here, then 100% of those accomplishments need to be 100% airtight. In the case of AIPCS, they just aren’t.

    I love logical thinking. It irks me when people believe nonsense, and it makes me furious when national policy is created from the nonsense. The original promise of charter schools was that they would be developing school models which regular public schools could eventually adopt. I do believe that some of their innovations are legitimate, but far too many are not.

    As far as studies that compare charter schools to non-charters, there is absolutely no point to believe the conclusions of a report which compares schools which attract self-selected families, contain cherry-picked students, are permitted to eliminate their poor performers, and to engage in a whole other set of questionably legitimate activities outside of protocol – to schools which do not, and which are RESTRICTED BY LAW to, do those things.

    Now, if we are going to change the laws and permit ALL schools to cherry-pick their students, eliminate the ones they don’t want, engage in the same levels of test practice, etc., then the comparisons between schools will become valid.

    Highly competitive individuals are driven to succeed at all costs. Sometimes their nature compels them to stretch the boundaries of what is permitted, and they can totally justify it to themselves (professional athletes, for instance). I believe this might be the case with AIPCS. Procedures at the school should have been investigated and challenged long ago, but everyone, including OUSD, the CDE and the Federal government, would much rather believe in miracle cures.

  • Oakland mom3

    Amen, Catherine.

    I don’t think this will ever happen though as the parents of the academically gifted kids don’t seem able to mobilize on this issue. The district and many of the schools seem to have convinced parents that they ought to just be thankful for what they have and not try to seek out excellence or attempt to challenge their kids to learn.

    And somehow the argument that kids at the top end of the spectrum deserve a small piece of the few available resources has been cast in an un-PC tone. Somehow the only acceptable argument is that the kids below proficient deserve the resources (and i”m sure that this is because that is the quickest way to boost state test scores — you get credit for bringing up the bottom, but you don’t get anything for helping boost the already more than proficient kids).

    The acceptance of mediocrity drives me nuts. I think that the district just expects that the more gifted kids should be in private school (a kind of version of “charter” schools, albeit one that most of us simply cannot afford).

  • Peter

    But wait! This report doesn’t just compare schools that “cherry pick” kids and schools that don’t… it compares schools that “cherry pick” kids with a random selection of schools that happen to have lower API scores. When we compare them to schools that are nearby or serving the same population, many times charters are coming up short. Beyond the philosophical and pedagogical differences between public schools and charters, the methodology of the report is dishonest and absurd. When will that be addressed?

  • Jose, Former Student

    Sharon,
    Sharon,

    Thanks for your responce, however, you did not answer my question. According to the California Department of Education web site the AIPH did not open until 2006-2007 school year with 9th and 10th grade.

    Do you think it is fair to compare the self-selected 89% of 12th graders at Piedmont as you noted to 9th and 10th graders at another school?” Could this result in a difference in test scores?

    Sorry, I have a class. I look forward to your responce.

  • Sharon

    Jose: Yes, thank you for bringing that detail to my attention once again. I focused my response on the other issues, but realized that I had overlooked it after I had posted my comment.

    I do see your point. To compare the two groups, would require a close side by side comparison of PSAT and SAT scores for each grade in each group, but I doubt those figures will be released to the general public. If you find a neutral source for AIPHS’s 12th grade SAT scores for this year please let us know, then we can move closer to finding out how the two groups of seniors compare. It was interesting to find out that the API and SAT for the other schools do seem to correlate fairly well.

    In the meantime, the fact that every AIPHS student is required to take the test, but every Piedmont student is not, may show up as a continual numerical advantage on the part of Piedmont and other schools with a similar policy. It is not valid to compare test data of populations which are self-selected to those which are not, unless one is attempting to determine the advantage that self-selection provides. This relates to my point about charter schools.

    Given the PSAT scores of 2006-07, I am somewhat doubtful that the AIPHS seniors of this year will get SAT scores which are the equivalent of over 500 points higher. Of course, their competitive spirit and extreme focus on practice testing may prove me wrong. I know those students are individuals who are willing to work their tails off, and I’m sure their future will be bright.

    I once knew a teacher who recognized one of her former 6th grade students in an article about AIPCS where he had transferred and had become a 7th grader. She exclaimed that he had been one of her top-performing students. The debate about charter schools goes around and around, like the chicken and the egg.

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  • Jose, Former Student

    Sharon,

    Thanks!

  • Teri Gruenwald

    I think this is an apples to oranges comparison. I’m a parent of a child at Glenview and one at Brewer who graduated from Glenview, so the 2008 test scores include his grade from last year. When I compared Glenview with the Conservatory of Vocal/Instrumental Arts which the report compared, I saw some differences that could possibly explain why the Conservatory scored higher.

    Here they are:
    Glenview had 223 students with 1 exempted, so they tested 222 in 2nd through 5th grades.
    Conservatory had 50 students eligible for testing and 1 was exempted and they tested 47 students for 2nd through 8th grades. (64% were in 2-5; 36% in 6-8). They get one API score for a K-8 school. So, their school is an orange and Glenview is an apple here.

    Average Class sizes:
    Glenview: K-3: 19; 4-5: 31
    Conservatory: K-3: 12; 4-5: 16 (although they list this as 4-6)

    Again: Apples to Oranges because there is a huge difference in teaching a class of 12 rather than a class of 19 and an even huger difference teaching a class or 16 vs. a class or 31 (which is just about double the number of students!)

    On parent education level:
    Glenview: 25% with a college degree and 19% grad school
    Conservatory: 48% college degree, 15% grad school.
    Glenview: 8% no high school diploma; 20% h.s. grad; 28% some college
    Conservatory: 4% no high school diploma; 7% h.s. grade; 26% some college.

    And most telling of all: Conservatory: 92% of parents completed survey and Glenview: only 54% (which I would suggest would reveal that the many who did not complete the survey probably fall in the no high school grad or high school grad since they would be the ones more likely to not fill out the form for a variety of reasons having to do with low English-language literacy, not seeing the importance of the form, shame at their own low level of education, etc.)

    Again: apples to oranges

    We know that kids who come from families with higher education are given more academic enrichment and at earlier ages, attend pre-school in higher numbers, and know that they will be expected to go to college from an early age. Therefore, even though the other demographics around ethnic/racial identification, kids receiving free and reduced lunches, etc. are somewhat closer in percentages, I would argue that the most important indicator for success on a test like the STAR in a student is parent education level.

    Finally, charter public schools, by definition, don’t have to follow lots of provisions in the state ed code. If non-public charter schools had the same freedom to be innovative and creative (without losing union representation and eliminating less desirable kids), I wonder if our schools would have kids who are testing better and therefore better reputations. So once again, it’s an apples to oranges comparison.

    Parents make choices for all sorts of reasons, and I stopped judging them for it. However, if parents who choose charter schools were to stay in their neighborhoods and choose their local public schools, they might be pleasantly surprised to find a community of dedicated parents and teachers, other staff, and principals willing to work to the bone to make their schools better. For us it was never a choice. We didn’t see a reason not to go to Glenview, and we sent our now 6th grader there when Glenview was not considered to be the shining light it is now. (In fact, several parents from our pre-school who lived in our neighborhood were horrified we were sending him there. They thought we were placing our son at risk. Of course, all that they heard was rumor and innuendo and had no bearing on the truth whatsoever.) The community of parents who chose Glenview that year and the next have continued to work hard to make our school better, but not just for our own children but for all the children of the school. The added benefit is that our children can walk to school and have many friends in the neighborhood they wouldn’t have gotten to know if we had chosen to go elsewhere. And an even extra added benefit is that our family involvement and neighborhood support has grown every year.

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  • Jack Gerson

    It’s disappointing that Katy–who is usually very good about digging deep–chose to publicize this house study commissioned by the California Charter Schools Association. At least, she did provide us with a link to the original report, and one does not need to look very far to see that this is pure hype.

    This “matched comparison” is not a valid statistical study, as the authors themselves admit up front at the beginning of their “full report”. They say:

    “Research Limitations:
    This analysis is primarily descriptive; therefore,statistical significances and possible correlations are not described.

    This analysis uses available aggregate school level data,which provides less insight than student level data.”

    First limitation: Descriptive statistics–in the case of this “study”, this refers to group means–do not provide a basis for statistical inference unless accompanied by some measure of precision. The authors admit this–they admit that they can’t / won’t present measures of statistical significance (without such measures, there can be no statistical inference, so this study can’t be used to infer anything), and they further admit that they can’t /won’t even describe correlations.

    Second limitation: the authors recognize the importance of student level data. In particular, prospective studies of unbiased (or bias-adjusted) samples of students that follow each student longitudinally over several years might make inference possible. But even then, the sources of bias would have to be removed (e.g., the huge bias introduced by charter schools’ push-outs). And beyond that, API–based on high stakes multiple choice tests–should not be used as the measure of student achievement (and certainly not the sole measure, as the education measurement community overwhelmingly agrees).

    Jack Gerson
    OEA Executive Board and Bargaining Team

  • Susan

    I do not support charter schools as I do not think they are the answer to the problems in education.

    BUT God do I hate the teachers union who I feel are the main cause for the destruction of public education in Oakland. These are nothing but closet communists! They say outrageous statements, yet defend teachers who may be pedofiles.

    Get rid of the unions, and we would not have charter schools nor a need for for school reform.