Monday, October 20, 2014

Why The MDRC Small School Study Is Crap.





















Once again the so-called non-profit MDRC has used questionable statistics and biased assumptions to falsely show that the Bloomberg small schools, between 2002-07, had better graduation rates and enrolled in college at a higher percentage than the large high schools. Yes, if one looks at the simple conclusion it does look like the small schools have a 4 year graduation rate that's 15% higher than the large schools and 49% enroll in college compared to the 40% in the larger schools.  However, if one looks deeper into the statistics you find some very disturbing problems with the study.

First, the MDRC study only sampled the oversubscribed small schools and not all the small schools.   In particular, the MDRC study left out the small schools that had open seats and located in deep poverty communities.  I wonder how that would have changed the small school statistics?

Second, its common knowledge that during the Chancellor Joel Klein tenure, which takes in the 2002-07 study period, small schools were allowed to exclude "high needs" students, like Special Education, English Language Learners, and students with behavioral, attendance, and academic difficulties.

Third, while the average large school was underfunded by 20%, the Bloomberg small schools were given their full allocation and then some more additional funding to ensure they succeed.

Finally, the DOE deliberately dumped large numbers of "high needs" and over the counter students into the large schools, lowering their 4 year graduation rates and college enrollment percentage.

Let's see, if I opened a school and excluded "high needs" students, used academics, attendance, and  behavioral parameters to select or reject students,  and didn't take my fair share of over the counter students  my school would be successful too.  What's interesting is that the small schools didn't have better results, considering their exclusion of low achieving middle school students.  The reason probably lies with the poor administration (leadership academy principals)  and their hiring of inexperienced teachers that hurt student academic achievement.

If you believe the MDRC study is accurate than I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.


10 comments:

Philip Nobile said...

Swell job, Chaz. Here's another way to test the MDRC paper: FOIL the 65 bulge in large and small school Regents scores (and course grades, too). Let's see who appears to cheat more and consequently inflate their grad rates. This fits perfectly with Mulgrew's last May call for a Truth Commission. Surely, the intellectually honest Unity crowd will sign on.

Anonymous said...

The small schools have destroyed the historical presence and value of NYC schools. These tiny little fake theme schools such as academy for medical or academy for sports professions are a complete farce. Students and parents are fooled into believing that their child will be enrolled in a "medical" high school or a "law" high school or "sports" professions HS. However, the reality is that these schools have the same graduation requirements of any New York high school!! Now, common areas in the large schools such as cafeteria and gym are to be shared and other issues such as 9 principals in one building now have created such a crappy feeling of cheapness. Most schools are jammed into the buildings and space has become a war zone between schools as far as who gets what. Thanks bloomberg and klein for turning our NYC schools into third world environments.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chaz, I'm a reporter for the Queens Courier. Interested in writing about Flushing High School's frequent principal turnover. Please email me at ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com
so that we can chat. Thank you.

Gabriel Macht said...


I could not agree more that the real reason lies with the poor administration (leadership academy principals) and their hiring of inexperienced teachers that hurt student academic achievement. But it is too difficult to admit for those who create such ratings. They are ready to blame everything but pretty obvious things. It is like blaming custom essay writing services or payday loans for existing. I do agree with you. I wish your thoughts could be heard

Anonymous said...

How bout Bronxdale HS in the Bronx? A new bullshit school that hides behind the lack of data (grad rate). 3 out of the 6 regents pass rates for examinations were below 50%. This is a new school? Pathetic freakin stats with an even more pathetic principal. Check out their 8% pass rate for 131 students taking the Earth Science Regents. PATHETIC!!!! This was Bloomberg's idea? What happens to these shit schools like Bronxdale?

Anonymous said...

Hey Queens Courier guy, write about kwait at johne bowne, was in the daily news several times in the past

Anonymous said...

Small school concept came from Bill Gates Foundation. Bill Gates has since admitted that, in so many words, the small schools have been a failure.

ReadyToRetireNow said...

Once the anti-union, corporate, elistist, self-proclaimed educational experts (see Campbell Brown, Michelle Rhee, etc...) are done replacing (ie -destroying) traditional public schools with charter/mini schools, how are they going to justify keeping the many that, like traditional public schools, that fail? Will they be closed too? If so, in favor of what? Even smaller schools? Will the pendulum then swing back to traditional schools again, but with a watered down "union" membership working at Walmart-like wages and benefits? Did the chicken come first or the egg? Or is it vice-versa?

Anonymous said...

How is math science with Cruz in campus maggot still open ? 9 vacancies now ? Cheating on regents ? No one will work there . He rates everyone ineffective and gives no one tenure . That place needs to be shut down! He is a vicious bully - blames teachers for the vile behavior of the so called students who walk in and out of classes and throw things.

Anonymous said...

Hey Queens Courier Guy. Write about that sociopath at Bryant, Dwarka.