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Concept Schools - Success in Education or Success in Marketing?
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Concept Schools - Success in Education or Success in Marketing?

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Concept Schools manages 25 publicly-funded charter schools in the Midwest. Its school network has grown rapidly in recent years. This presentation examines its marketing claims along with school ...

Concept Schools manages 25 publicly-funded charter schools in the Midwest. Its school network has grown rapidly in recent years. This presentation examines its marketing claims along with school data, including data on college readiness of its graduates.

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Concept Schools - Success in Education or Success in Marketing? Presentation Transcript

  • 1. The Concept Schools model: success in education or success in marketing?or success in marketing? February 26, 2011 CASILIPS Citizens Against Special Interest Lobbying in Public Schools casilips@gmail.com You are welcome to use this presentation, but please do not alter it in any way.
  • 2. Concept Schools • Concept Schools now manages 25 publicly-funded charter schools in the states of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. • Wisconsin Career Academy is not listed as a member on the Concept website, but uses the Concept model for curriculum and has many other ties to Conceptand has many other ties to Concept • The Concept Schools model is even being used in overseas schools, such as the United School of Al Yahar in the United Arab Emirates, through a multinational company called Concept Schools International.
  • 3. Concept: Non-profit or for-profit? • There are two US companies named Concept Schools, both with ties to the Concept management, Concept Schools-NFP, an Illinois corporation, and Concept Schools-Ohio, an Ohio corporation. • Concept Schools-Ohio never had 501(c)3 status• Concept Schools-Ohio never had 501(c)3 status • Concept Schools-NFP in Illinois filed one Form 990 in 2006, but has since failed to prove its 501(c)3 status to the IRS • Both companies are “non-profit” in their respective states, but not “non-profit” as far as the IRS is concerned.
  • 4. Member school list Concept Schools website, accessed Feb 2011 1. Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA) 2. Gateway Science Academy – St. Louis 3. Horizon Science Academy – Cincinnati 4. Horizon Science Academy – Cleveland High School 5. Horizon Science Academy – Cleveland Middle School 6. Horizon Science Academy – Cleveland Elementary School 14. Horizon Science Academy – Denison Elementary School 15. Horizon Science Academy – Lorain 16. Horizon Science Academy – Springfield 17. Horizon Science Academy – Toledo High School 18. Horizon Science Academy – Toledo Downtown 19. Horizon Science Academy – Youngstown 20. Indiana Math and Science Academy (IMSA) – West7. Horizon Science Academy – Columbus High School 8. Horizon Science Academy – Columbus Middle School 9. Horizon Science Academy – Columbus Elementary School 10. Horizon Science Academy – Dayton Elementary School 11. Horizon Science Academy – Dayton High School 12. Horizon Science Academy – Dayton Downtown 13. Horizon Science Academy – Denison Middle School 20. Indiana Math and Science Academy (IMSA) – West 21. Indiana Math and Science Academy (IMSA) – North 22. Michigan Math and Science Academy (MMSA) 23. Noble Academy – Cleveland 24. Noble Academy – Columbus 25. Quest Charter Academy – Peoria
  • 5. Overall, schools’ status deteriorated from 2008-09 to 2009-10 school years In 2008-09, Concept Schools operated 11 charter schools (Horizon, Noble) in Ohio: 6 schools – Continuous improvement 2 schools – Effective 3 schools – Excellent In 2009-10, Concept Schools operated 16 charter schools (Horizon, Noble) in Ohio:In 2009-10, Concept Schools operated 16 charter schools (Horizon, Noble) in Ohio: 1 school - Academic emergency 5 schools - Academic watch 5 schools - Continuous improvement 2 schools - Effective 2 schools - Excellent 1 school - Excellent with distinction Source: Ohio Department of Education website, accessed Feb 2011
  • 6. Marketing of Concept Schools Concept Schools engages in intensive marketing of its educational model. The following points are repeatedly emphasized: Performance on Ohio state standardized testsPerformance on Ohio state standardized tests higher than expected for demographic Schools focused on college preparation “100% graduation rate” “100% college acceptance”
  • 7. Marketing claims widely accepted in the community; reproduced by journalists • From “Chicago Math and Science Academy: Great Academics, Ugly Unionbusting” by Kim Bobo, August 9, 2010 published in In These Times: "Until last year, I only vaguely knew about the school because one of my choir members, who spoke highly of the school and its teachers, attended and graduated in its 2010 class, which had a college acceptance rate of 100 percent."college acceptance rate of 100 percent." • The Horizon High School, into which most of the middle school students matriculate, boasts 100 percent graduation and 90 percent college-acceptance rates. Thomas B. Fordham Study: Needles in a Haystack: Lessons from Ohio's high performing high-need urban schools. May 25, 2010
  • 8. Part 1. A closer look at Ohio state standardized test resultsstandardized test results
  • 9. Performance on state achievement tests forms the basis for Concept Schools’ reputation “Horizon’s academic achievement shows on state achievement tests. Seventy- five percent of students scored proficient or better on the state’s reading tests, compared to the 48 percent of students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. More strikingly, 80 percent of Horizon students were proficient in math, compared to only 39 percent of district students.” Source: Thomas B. Fordham Study “Needles in a Haystack: Lessons from Ohio's high performing high-need urban schools,” May 25,Source: Thomas B. Fordham Study “Needles in a Haystack: Lessons from Ohio's high performing high-need urban schools,” May 25, 2010, section on Horizon Science Academy Cleveland Middle School “Nine northeast Ohio schools have been chosen as Blue Ribbon Schools. The U.S. Department of Education selects the schools based on test scores and improving student performance. Horizon was chosen in part because of dramatically improving student performance, with at least 40 percent disadvantaged students.” Source: news article at WKYC Cleveland website, Sep 23, 2009
  • 10. Performance on state standardized tests used to get approval for new schools From a charter application submitted by Concept Schools to Peoria Public Schools, Peoria Illinois: “Students in Concepts‐managed schools perform“Students in Concepts‐managed schools perform significantly higher than those of typical district schools.” (The application was successful, and led to the founding of Quest Charter School.)
  • 11. Source: Ohio Department of Education
  • 12. However, the following two graphs show that better-than-expected performance on state standardized tests is not translating into better- than-expected college readiness, as measured by college entrance exam results.by college entrance exam results. An additional point worth noting: - State standardized tests are administered on the school site by school personnel. - College entrance exams are usually given at another site, by personnel not affiliated with the school.
  • 13. Horizon Science Academy Columbus: SAT scores do not deviate significantly from average based on economic status of students Source: Ohio Department of Education 2009-10 school rating data spreadsheet All schools with 10 or more students taking the SAT should be included here, according to the Ohio Dept. of Education
  • 14. Horizon Science Academy Columbus: ACT scores do not deviate significantly from average based on economic status of students Source: Ohio Department of Education 2009-10 school rating data spreadsheet All schools with 10 or more students taking the ACT should be included here, according to the Ohio Dept. of Education.
  • 15. School practices contributing to higher scores on state standardized tests From Thomas B. Fordham Study “Needles in a Haystack: Lessons from Ohio's high performing high-need urban schools,” May 25, 2010, section on Horizon Science Academy Cleveland Middle School: • “Other practices that have contributed to the school’s success include: mandatory Ohio Achievement Test preparation sessions that are held from 8:00 a.m. until noon for eight Saturdays before the April tests…”8:00 a.m. until noon for eight Saturdays before the April tests…” • “The school will not promote a student to the next grade if he or she fails one core subject for the year or fails to perform at grade level on the Ohio Achievement Test. Rather, they must repeat the grade entirely.” [Note: this practice likely has a selection effect, as many students, rather than repeating a grade, will probably transfer to a different school.] Traditional public schools are generally not allowed to engage in such practices.
  • 16. Part 2. A closer look at “100% graduation rates”“100% graduation rates”
  • 17. School claims 100% graduation rate • “Needles in a Haystack” report of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, May 2010: “The Horizon High School [Cleveland], into which most of the middle school students matriculate, boasts 100 percent graduation and 90 percent college-acceptance rates.” • From education.com website: "The Horizon Science Academy Columbus School District had a grades 9- 12 dropout rate of 1% in 2008. The national grades 9-12 dropout rate in12 dropout rate of 1% in 2008. The national grades 9-12 dropout rate in 2007 was 4.4%." • Official graduation rates from Ohio Department of Education for Horizon Science Academy Cleveland (data for 2009-10 not available yet) School year Graduation rate 2008-09 98.4% 2007-08 93.6% 2006-07 92.3%
  • 18. “100% graduation rate” – yet many 9th graders do not graduate The first two graphs follow cohorts of students as they moved through the school over a 4-year period from 9th to 12th grade. Even though total high school enrollment doubled during that period (third graph), the number of students in 12th grade was much less than the number entering 9th grade three years earlier. Many students were not counted because they “voluntarily transferred” to other schools. These students started high school at Horizon Science Academy but did not graduate from Horizon Science Academy. This is the untold story behind the “100% graduation rates” . Source of enrollment data: National Center for Education Statistics
  • 19. Pattern of entering 9th graders not completing high school repeats in other Concept schools These enrollment figures are for a cohort of students who entered 9th grade in the 2005-06 school year, and are followed over the 4 years they are in high school. Source of data: National Center for Education Statistics
  • 20. Wisconsin Career Academy • Wisconsin Career Academy’s website says it uses Concept Schools’ curriculum, assessment tools, and student database. WCA teachers attend training events run by Concept. Many other connections can be shown. • Thus, WCA is a de facto “Concept school,” even though WCA is not officially listed on the Concept Schools website as being a “member school.” • The website of the Michigan Association of Public Schools Academies, which includes Concept Schools as a member along with other Michigan charter • The website of the Michigan Association of Public Schools Academies, which includes Concept Schools as a member along with other Michigan charter operators, states that: “With a 100% graduation rate and 94% college acceptance rate, Concept Schools graduates attend prestigious colleges around the country including MIT, OSU, and Case Western Reserve University.” WCA and MAPSA websites accessed Feb 2011. Sources for graduation rate data: WINSS (Wisconsin Information Network for Successful Schools) and NAPCS (National Association of Public Charter Schools) websites. WCA 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 Graduation rate 60.0% 87.8% 80.4% 76.6%
  • 21. Part 3. A closer look at 100% collegeA closer look at 100% college acceptance rates
  • 22. Concept: Marketing claims “Concept Schools grew to manage 19 charter schools in four different states, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan in ten years. Concept is also opening a new school in St. Louis, MO in 2010. All the schools implement the same model, which is college prep focusing on math, science, and technology in an environment, where expectations and standards are high andenvironment, where expectations and standards are high and relationship has high values. Schools have 100% college acceptances. All of them are in urban environment. Populations of students who come from economically disadvantaged families in the schools vary from 60% to 90%. Eighty percent of their graduates are first college generations in their families.” Source: Concept Schools website, accessed Feb 13, 2011.
  • 23. CMSA: "100% College Acceptance Rates" "This year, all seniors at Chicago Math and Science Academy have graduated and 100% were accepted into college.“were accepted into college.“ Source: 2009 report on the website of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools
  • 24. CMSA: Claim of preparation for elite universities “At the Chicago Math and Science Academy, the 2008 class attained a 100% college acceptance rate. Students in Concepts‐managed schools are regularly accepted to top‐tiered schools such as MIT, Notre Dame, and the University of are regularly accepted to top‐tiered schools such as MIT, Notre Dame, and the University of Chicago.” Source: charter application submitted by Concept Schools to Peoria Public Schools, Peoria IL, which successfully led to the founding of Quest Charter School.
  • 25. CMSA: More marketing claims "In 2009, the first graduating senior class experienced 100% college acceptance and were 100% college bound. CMSA is rated one of the top 3 charter schools and non-selective high schools in Chicago. CMSA was also recognized as a "Spotlight School" by the Illinois State Board of Education. This award is given to schools that advocate strong academic achievement School" by the Illinois State Board of Education. This award is given to schools that advocate strong academic achievement despite a low-income status.“ This text appears on both the Wikipedia article on CMSA and the Facebook page of CMSA, both accessed Feb 13, 2011.
  • 26. After examining these marketing claims, it is time to look at some data for CMSA.
  • 27. Evidence suggests these CMSA students will struggle to complete college • Average 2010 ACT score for CMSA graduates was lower than all but one of the colleges they were admitted to. • This suggests most students are unprepared for the college they are entering. • “Although ACT scores can be highly successful in predicting future success in college, students’ performance on the ACT is largelysuccess in college, students’ performance on the ACT is largely determined by the courses students take during high school (Paszczyk, 1994), and the high school they attended (Noble et al., 1999).” (Source: The Principals' Partnership, Union Pacific Foundation, Research Brief “ACT and College Success”) • Students who are pressured to attend a college that they are unprepared for may experience the worst possible outcome: a burden of high student loan debt, and no degree to show for it.
  • 28. Wisconsin Career Academy: inconsistent marketing claims? • June 2009 newsletter for parents states: “WCA boasts a 100% college acceptance rate for its 2008-09 graduates.” • From Milwaukee Public Schools website, 2008-09 school performance report: – 52.8% of graduates going to 4-year college/university– 52.8% of graduates going to 4-year college/university – 36.1% technical/vocational college • That adds up to 88.9%, not 100%. Why the discrepancy? • Also, should technical and vocational colleges be counted as part of a “college acceptance rate”? • Average composite ACT for 2009: 15.7 (very low compared to most university entrants)
  • 29. Horizon Science Academy marketing claims • Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Sep 30, 2010 "2010 marks the third year in a row that Horizon Science Academy Cleveland High School has had a 100% college acceptance rate.“ • Report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute: “Needles in a Haystack: Lessons from Ohio’s high-performing, high-need urbanHaystack: Lessons from Ohio’s high-performing, high-need urban schools” May 2010 "The Horizon High School, into which most of the middle school students matriculate, boasts 100 percent graduation and 90 percent college-acceptance rates." • WKYC-Cleveland Sep 23, 2009 “Horizon also has a 100 percent college acceptance rate for students.” Note how all claims are for Horizon Cleveland, yet used to market the other schools in the chain carrying the Horizon name.
  • 30. Horizon Science Academy – college readiness • Only 3 of Concept Schools’ Ohio charter schools had graduating 12th grade classes in the 2009-10 school year. • Horizon Science Academy in Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo had 67, 60 and 25 graduates, resp., in 2009-10. Source: ODE (Ohio Dept. of Education) • Cleveland and Toledo report no ACT or SAT scores. This, according to the ODE,• Cleveland and Toledo report no ACT or SAT scores. This, according to the ODE, means 10 or fewer students took these tests. It is unclear how they could achieve “100% college admission” without having more than 10 of their graduates take at least one of these tests. • Horizon Columbus had average ACT 19, average SAT 908. These scores cannot be reconciled with the claim that “With a 100% graduation rate and 94% college acceptance rate, Concept Schools graduates attend prestigious colleges around the country including MIT, OSU, and Case Western Reserve University” (from Michigan Association of Public Schools Academies website). The average Concept student would face an uphill struggle to enter any of these universities.
  • 31. Conclusions The marketing claims made for Concept Schools, including the Horizon Science Academy chain, seem excessive relative to the data on college readiness and admissions.readiness and admissions.
  • 32. Parents have insufficient information to assess accuracy of schools’ claims • In the charter school model, the burden of assessing accuracy of charter schools’ marketing claims rests on parents, not state officials. • State officials grant permission to replicate schools based on standardized test scores and parental demand. They do insufficient research on whether test scores truly reflect educational achievement.whether test scores truly reflect educational achievement. • Parents have limited time and have inadequate access to pertinent data to perform the tasks of school assessment and regulation. • The fact that many parents choose a charter school does not mean it is a good school. • Sooner or later, this fundamental flaw in the charter school model must be acknowledged.
  • 33. Success in the business of education vs. success in education • Americans have not yet adjusted to the implications of privatized education. • Private corporations have powerful incentives to package their statistics in the most flattering way possible, and to eventheir statistics in the most flattering way possible, and to even inflate claims. • Sophisticated advertising is effective and can mislead many people. • Constructive educational reform cannot be based on marketing.
  • 34. Disclosure statement: CASILIPS is run entirely with volunteer labor, has no budget, and is not funded by any other organization or individuals. CASILIPS has no financial interest in K-12 education,CASILIPS has no financial interest in K-12 education, whether traditional public, private or charter. Thank you for your time.