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The Truth Will Out And RSD-NO test results are still in doubt! - Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Truth Will Out


And RSD-NO test results are still in doubt!


            Reformers seem intent on providing the public with evidence of their favorite charter school’s miracle gains in academic achievement are proof that the Portfolio Model offers evidence of success.  . 


            In the New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD-NO) the top award goes to KIPP Central City Primary school which, for 2009-2010, has been awarded a 4 Star rating with a 120.6 School Performance Score (SPS).


            Congratulations seem in order.  But for an inconvenient truth:  The school is a K-1 school enrolling 193 students.  When one visits the Principal’s Report Card for the KIPP Central City Primary school on the State Department of Education Web Site the following can be found:

Its 2009-2010 Accountability summary reveals exemplary academic growth, the school made subgroup AYP and most importantly "Your School's 2009-2010 Sharing Status:

• Your school has shared test units with another school because it did not have the required tests units for receiving a School Performance Score.

• Shared School: KIPP Central City Academy (398003, 4-7).”


KIPP Central City Primary is taught in classrooms where no teacher meets the No Child Left Behind Highly Qualified Definition.  Furthermore, its student body is composed of 93% free/reduced lunch eligible students, and 8% students with disabilities.


It is paired with another KIPP School:  KIPP Central City Academy (398003) is listed as a 2 Star school with an 85.2 SPS.  Now this school offers grades 4 through 7.  It too is granted an exemplary academic growth label by the DOE.  It enrolled 288 students.  Fewer than 20% of students in this school do better than basic in English Language Arts.  Moreover, the school failed its most current year additional academic indicator.  Students with disabilities constitute 8% of the student body, and 92% are eligible for free/reduced price lunch.


The first question made evident by these statistics drawn directly from the DOE web site is:  How does a school earn an SPS score when the first iLEAP test is not offered until Grade 3?


The second question is:  How, being short of units with which to earn an SPS score, does paring with a sister school with an 85.2 SPS result in a 120.6 score?


Neither school should be denigrated by these reports.  Rather the questions focus on the state report generator. 


            Perhaps most telling about the 2009-2010 scores for these two KIPP schools is that the grade 3 iLEAP listings show neither of these schools.  It would seem that with such stellar performance one or the other would have added the missing grades 2 and 3.


            One might compare the performance of these RSD-NO schools with Lake Forest Elementary school that is operated by the Orleans Parish School Board.  It too is a high poverty student body with 86% of students eligible for free/reduced lunch service. 


            Eighty-four percent Lake’s teachers met NCLB definition of highly qualified.  The 442 students attended small classes with 83% of all classes ranging in size between 1 and 20.  In Grade 8, 76.3% of the students in ELA were classified as advanced or mastery level and no student was below basic.  Only in third and fifth grades were there any students below basic.  The 3rd grade scores shows 1.6% at approaching basic; and in fifth grade 2.6% were approaching basic in ELA.


            The SPS earned by Lake for 2009-2010 was 140.4, with a Growth SPS calculation at 145.2.


            Clearly there is a significant difference between the apparent scores of these schools.  Just as clearly, there is something very queer in the reporting of the KIPP schools’ SPS scores. 


            If one compares the KIPP Central City Academy 5th grade ELA ILEAP scores to those of Lake Forest Elementary the separation in performance is clear.


            KIPP CCA shows 12.9% unsatisfactory and 24.3 % approaching basic with no 5th grade student rated advanced.


            At the same time Lake Forest 5th grade had no students performing at an unsatisfactory level and 2.6% approaching basic; with another 5.3% rated advanced.


Don Whittinghill




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