As it would be expected, my previous column about PK Diffenbaugh, charter schools, and what was accomplished in terms of closing the achievement gap at Sacramento High during his tenure hit a nerve. If you didn't get a chance to read it, here it is.
Like I mentioned in the blog post, I'll have to do some digging -- and I'll get to it. But in the meantime, Monterey resident and researcher extraordinaire Joanna Greenshields did some digging for me. She also wrote a very interesting analysis of her findings, which she gave me permission to share with my readers. In the interest of having a balance of opinions, here it is.
I was trying to catch up on reading your blog and came across the enrollment figures for our new "Super" from his old charter school.
I pulled up their data as I too was curious on the falling enrollment numbers you reported.
I also wanted to see if I could find any patterns in the data to support my belief that this chap could be the "kick up the arse" for MPUSD that we have long felt was needed!
Here is what I have been able to surmise:
Sacramento High had an enrollment number of 1,919 in 1999-00.
The student demographic was as follows;
African American 19%
The next year it dropped to 1,881 students with small changes in demographics.
In 2002, enrollment jumped back up to 2,025 with African American student numbers going higher and all other demographics dropping.
Kevin Johnson took over the school in 2003 and turned it in to a public charter under the non profit group, St. HOPE. I imagine that some families may have tried the charter model for a year or so and then probably decided it wasn't for them. It is a school of choice and as we found out when we opened BVA, slightly less than 50% of our families moved with us.
In 2005 there were 1,692 students enrolled at SCH.
The free and reduced lunch number was at 45.8% and the demographics were as follows;
African American 33.3%
By 2010 the demographics had changed considerably.
Total enrollment = 960 students of which 71.4% qualified for free and reduced lunch and 79.7% were socioeconomic disadvantaged.
Students with disabilities 12.3%.
African American 53%
I printed up the student exit records that were available on line with the exit codes. The exit codes gave reasons for moving from Sacramento Charter High, which included transfers to college, out of county, state, Adult Ed. etc. The largest numbers were to other CA public high schools, and from 2006 to 2009 there were 634 students who transferred in and out under that code.
I could only get three years worth of data.
Either way, from the numbers, I don't see how the school was able to be selective academically as some people may now be arguing. It's a public charter, and as such they have to hold a lottery if they are oversubscribed.
It is also virtually impossible to remove any student without due process, and you have to have expulsion processes outlined in your charter. All suspensions and expulsions are carefully documented, and the data doesn't support that happened at SCH. Looking at the school data on the CDE website, I didn't see there was a high expulsion rate, quite the opposite. The number of suspensions was higher than at the Sacramento City district level but if the school culture was positive, with a low or zero tolerance for certain behaviors, then I would expect to see a higher number of suspensions.
Parent education levels at the charter school have not changed much at all, statistically rising and falling by about 1%; however, the number of parents/students who responded to the STAR parent education survey increased dramatically every year.
Free and reduced lunch numbers have increased and the students are overall from poorer families.
The academic data improvements looked very good.
I looked at individual subjects over multiple years and several subject areas really showed large improvements from 2005-2010. What impressed me the most was the number of students graduating who had completed all courses required for the UC and CSU entrances.
The numbers of total graduates meeting those requirements increased from 35.6% in 2005 to 90.6% in 2010 with 89.6% coming from low socioeconomic households. That data is amazing, especially considering it was over double the number of their district and almost triple the numbers of their county.
While I do agree with many of Diane Ravitch's ideas and theories, charter schools are not all the same, anymore than all public schools are the same.
PK and his staff were able to close the achievement gap at the school, and I believe the data supports that.
I know you and I want the same thing to happen in MPUSD and everywhere else for that matter.
I believe we can continue to keep them honest (well, most of them anyway) and hold everyone accountable, to include staff, parents and the members of each learning community. I personally really hate being called a "learning community" so perhaps that label can be one of the first things kicked to the curb??!
-- Joanna Greenshields