"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jay Mathews Condemns Miron KIPP Study for Its Fairness, Part II

Mathematica, which is under contract to KIPP, Inc. for some ongoing research, issued a working paper in time for AERA this year and in time to try to neutralize the findings of the Miron study.  It is this "better data" to which Jay refers in the quote below.  "Better data for Jay is, of course, data that supports the KIPP party line.  It matters not that the Mathematica paper bases its numbers on self-reported info from KIPP schools and does not include some schools that did not bother to report or that had incomplete data, whereas the Miron study pulls from the Fed's Common Core of Data, which some might view as "better data" in the sense that is is less likely to be cooked by KIPP.
Miron and his team raise good questions about KIPP. They come up with some interesting answers that both support and criticize the KIPP model, although their conclusions lean toward the negative and they make some mistakes. In one section they say KIPP is losing 40 percent of black males, but better data from Mathematica show the loss is considerably less than that, and below the average attrition of black males in neighboring regular public schools. The Miron report then contradicts its own point by saying that the attrition rate for low-income students at KIPP schools (about 85 percent of their total student bodies) is the same as that for low-income kids at regular schools in the districts in which they are located.
Below is a chart from the Miron study that breaks out the attrition rates by sub-groups (click to enlarge).  Apparently it never occurred to Jay that one sub-group, black males, might have much higher attrition rates, while other more docile sub-groups such as Hispanic females could have a much lower attrition rate, thus creating an average that matches neighboring schools, which is just what the Miron report shows.  Duh.

Jay is also upset that the Miron report points out that any replacement for urban public schools, corporate or otherwise, will have to be ready to convert existing schools.  KIPP's test scores and KIPP's success at cultural sterilization of minorities has depended upon starting new schools from scratch.  Where KIPP has tried conversions, such as in Denver and Buffalo, KIPP headquarters cut and ran before big problems could become PR nightmares and data damagers.  Jay's preference?  Well, of course, the world should operate to suit the organizational needs of KIPP.  Simple.
You create new schools within schools by growing a grade at a time, as KIPP does. That gives teachers a chance to establish a new culture that supports learning.
Note Jay's backstroke here in the KIPP sea of arrogance: only KIPP teachers can grow a culture of learning. Why do I think pandemic when Mathews talk about growing cultures?

Finally, Jay if miffed that Miron and his colleagues find that KIPP does not take children during the school year as public schools must.  (We know that KIPP has the luxury of requiring that 3 weeks of brainwashing during the previous summer to KIPP-notize new recruits, where would-be KIPPsters learn to walk and go the bathroom the KIPP way).  So once again, for Jay this simply points out the need for the rest of the world to change in order to comply with the KIPP organizational needs.  We, therefore, should create something like student rubber rooms or holding pens for students who transfer in so that they do not break the spell of the  treatment for KIPPsters who have been readied for their yearlong treatment in how to pass tests and how to resiliently absorb abuse and say thank you for it:
Admitting students at midyear in urban neighborhoods also holds back classes in regular schools, the report notes. If that is the case, then why do it in that unpromising way? Why not have special classes for students who arrive at midyear that focus on their special problems and ready them for a fresh start in the new school year?
If Jay Mathews truly believes this ridiculous babble, he is, indeed, dumber than I thought, which is to say, life continues to be full of surprises.

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