August 17, 2017

Five Easy Theses*

By Bellwether

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The post below is by guest blogger Mike Goldstein.

1. Richard Whitmire: “Charter School Students Graduating From College at Three to Five Times National Average.”

Wonks behold: an original data set (plus commentary).

<<We identified nine large charter networks with enough alumni to roughly calculate degree-earning success rates.” >> 

I agree with his premise.  KIPP nudged other charters to carefully calculate this stuff.  Certainly that was true for me at Match Charter.  Under Linda Brown’s direction, I remember writing “College Success” as the Match Charter School mission in 1999, but it wasn’t until KIPP’s public reporting of this data that we really pushed hard to track down ALL of the alumni (I’m told: 55% of Match grads currently hold a 4yr degree, plus 8% still in college from the “old enough” cohorts).

Read Whitmire’s whole thing, lots to contemplate.

2. Matt Ladner responds: Beware.  He writes:

<<Before this college success of charter school meme gets entirely out of hand, I want to suggest that we should get the comparisons between control group and experimental group studies on long-term success nailed down before going to town on this.>>

I agree.

a. Good news: at least one such scholarly study is quietly underway (or so I think).

b. If the denominator shifts from “Grade 12 grads” to “Grade 9 new students,” the graduation rate will obviously fall.  How much?  I’m guessing from 3x to 5x narrative will change to perhaps 1.5x to 3x.

c. A subgroup I’m curious about: kids who attend a top charter for a couple years, get large test gains, then transfer.  My guess is they enroll in college at roughly the same rates, but graduate at far lower rates.  Hopefully we’ll find out.

3. What we can all agree on: lots of kids start college, don’t finish.

One aspect: college remedial courses don’t seem to work.  See Freddie deBoer thoughts here on a new sobering study.

4. Neerav Kingland gets all Passover on us.  He asks what Four Questions the charter sector needs to answer.

Plus he (and we) can’t reblog enough the cautionary Fryer/Dobbie study.  (Where kids who attended Texas charters didn’t see much later-life wage gain).

5. The godmother of all edubloggers, Joanne Jacobs, always tells it like it is: <<Homework assignments in the early grades often are a waste of time. I like the idea of telling kids to read instead.>>

*Stolen from my friend Jim Stone, a wonk-worthy book.

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