Exiting: A sample of charter chains vs public district’s student attrition

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Politicians and others often frame a narrative that charters are on par or better than traditional public schools. I have discussed how charters stack up traditional public schools extensively in posts here on CI on charters. Are there charters that are islands of excellence? Of course, there are some and I discussed this in my invited testimony last week at the Texas Senate. But we must hold charters accountable to data— not just achievement data— because it is becoming clearer and clearer that many charters have high attrition.

Although, the Texas Education Agency doesn’t calculate and disseminate attrition rates, you can basically do it yourself here.  Table 5 is where the information lies.

Below is a table for the central Texas area that an anonymous reader produced and emailed me, not holding graduates against schools, but otherwise looking at attrition rates.

A Mathematica KIPP study that came out recently argued that KIPP schools have no higher attrition rate than surrounding schools and districts. Our Berkeley Review of Education study found had an opposite finding for KIPP’s African American students in Houston over the past decade. Anonymous wrote:

That seems a little disingenuous in that those “leavers” will necessarily land on some school district’s doorstep and show up in their numbers whereas they won’t show up in KIPP’s numbers (for the purposes for state accountability results).  That said, the report did use intent to treat in figuring KIPP’s effect size, so attrition doesn’t free them from those students’ outcomes.  An argument could be made, though, that lower proportions of Sped and ELL students, and attrition being made up of the lower performing students frees up resources for KIPP to maximize gains for other students in a way that traditional public schools can’t replicate.

So how do charters stack up in attrition in the Austin Area against traditional public districts? Anonymous provided a quick sample of Texas Education data in the table below comparing four popular charters and four traditional public districts in central Texas.

District

06-07

07-08

08-09

09-10

10-11

Weighted 5yr Average

Eanes ISD

8%

7%

7%

7%

7%

7%

Round Rock ISD

15%

12%

13%

12%

12%

13%

Pfluggerville ISD

17%

16%

17%

15%

15%

16%

Austin ISD

20%

18%

17%

17%

17%

18%

KIPP Austin*

44%

26%

15%

14%

10%

18%

NYOS*

24%

18%

27%

21%

17%

21%

Harmony Science – Austin*

24%

25%

30%

33%

30%

29%

Austin Can Academy*

58%

63%

53%

59%

67%

60%

*Charters

To their credit, KIPP Austin has performed on par with Austin ISD. However, you can see, Harmony and Austin Can are performing poorly. In fact, the Harmony corporate charters at one of their Houston campuses lost around 70% of their students one year (ouch).

I challenge you to do the same type of descriptive statistical analysis for the charters and traditional public schools in your community. I proffer that attrition analyses inform the conversation about educational equity and efficacy when charters have excessive attrition compared to our traditional public schools.

Special thanks to anonymous.

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Categories: Charter Schools, Dropout, KIPP

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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4 Comments on “Exiting: A sample of charter chains vs public district’s student attrition”

  1. March 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Reblogged this on Patrick S. De Walt, M.B.A., Ph.D. and commented:
    For those in the trenches, I encourage you to take a look at this and other posts from Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig at http://www.cloakinginequity.com.
    PSDW~

  2. Mauricio Guerra
    March 1, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Seems the clever fella covered all his tracks. One question, though. Since the formula sort of implies an attrition rate (I don’t think it’s realistic to discuss a hypothetical 0% attrition rate), you will still need the students to go somewhere. You still need the public schools. What’s the purpose of charter’s again?

    You could at the very least say that Charters separate motivated high achievers from less motivated students but then the ethics seems shady when you have disproportionate numbers of African Americans dropping out. I’m not following the issue too closely, to be honest, but from here it looks like supercharged tracking.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Frank Convo with KIPP’s Mike Feinberg: Do you call BS? | Cloaking Inequity - April 25, 2013

    [...] Reflection: I have discussed KIPP’s (and charter) attrition extensively in Is choice a panacea? An analysis of black secondary student attrition from KIPP, other private charters and urban districts and Exiting: A sample of charter chains vs public district’s student attrition [...]

  2. “Diversity is Hard”: Will Charter Schools In Your Locale Choose Equity? | Cloaking Inequity - November 11, 2013

    […] Exiting: A sample of charter chains vs public district’s student attrition […]

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