July 26, 2014
Across America, majority black school districts are creating charter schools for the top 5% – 10% performing students. These schools are then cited as proof that blacks students can perform as well, or even outperform white students. Of course the absolute dismal performance of the other schools in the district is omitted.
Let’s look at a recent example in the media.
From USA Today:
If you know anything about Boston you’ve heard of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. That’s where Brooke Charter Schools operates three K-8 schools. Despite that, Brooke students turn in startling results.
Just a quick sample: At its Mattapan school, which is two-thirds African-American, one-third Latino and largely poor, sixth-graders score at the highest proficiency rates in math in the entire state.
Ideally, Brooke founder Jon Clark would like to add another middle school and a high school for all his high-performing middle schoolers to attend. The high schools his students are forced to attend now are, to put it politely, of “mixed” quality. But he can’t because Massachusetts sets a cap on charter schools.
The Brooke Charter School is indeed 67% black, and only about 2% white. Most of the rest of the students are Latino. It has 168 total students, so approximately 100 elementary [K-8] students. Students have to apply to attend and get accepted. The school boasts a far more rigorous schedule than the other public schools.
State wide math proficiency on the 5th Grade MACS is 61%. The actually test scores for the Brooke Charter school in Mattapan is not published. The school’s website says the school scored #3 in the states for the 5th grade MACS math proficiency test.
Here are some other elementary schools in the same district.
Mattahut: 63% Black, 5th Grade MACS is 29% (559 Students K-5)
Chittick: 69% Black, 5th Grade MACS is 11% (291 Students K-5)
Mildred: 68% Black, 5th Grade MACS is 27% (757 Students K-8)
Young Achievers: 51% Black, 5th Grade MACS is 51% (536 Student K-8)
+ other schools, but we don’t have data.
The school district has approximately 1,700 K-5 students.
What you have is a pecking order. The top performing 100 elementary students get to go the special charter school. Test scores are phenomenal. In no way shape or form does this indicates the potential of all students in the district. It is just the performance of the top achievers. In fact, many students leave charter schools like this if they struggle.
The district also has a special larger “math and science” school. This school has 536 students. Approximately 375 are K-5. Their tests scores on math are still significantly lower than the state average, but far higher than the other schools in the district.
In other words, the top 6% most intelligent and most dedicated students go the Charter school. They next approximately 22% go to Young Achievers. The other 72% go to schools with extremely low test scores in math.
This format may be the best for the top performing students. The students who are most capable and most desiring of success get to go to school in an environment far more conducive to learning.
However, to say that the students at the charter reflect the “potential” of all students is absurd. Comparing the top 6% of any one district to the entire state is ridiculous.