How Does Stamford Charter School for Excellence do it?

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The State of Connecticut is required to test all of its students over the course of their academic careers. The data by year and school is disclosed as it becomes available at the State Department of Education’s Edsight website. In keeping with its explorations of open CT data, one of Redwall Analytics’s projects is to look for insight in this kind of disclosure. Recently, 2018 data were disclosed, making for five years of available test scores, demographics and school attributes on Edsight.

One question which is often discussed is the efficacy of charter schools. Connecticut currently has 23 charters serving ~10,000 students across the state. In total, it has 1,403 public schools with enrollment of ~530,000 students, so charters have hardly been tried compared with some other states, and generally receive scornful treatment from the press and town administrators. As a result, the percentage of charter schools is a fraction of states like Texas, which had 766 charters serving 308,000 students according to Public Charters.

In this post, we will look at the specific case of the Stamford Charter School for Excellence (“Stamford Excellence”), which launched in 2015 affiliated with by Excellence Community Schools) (“Bronx Excellence”), an operator of five schools in the Bronx. Redwall Analytics has watched the performance of the school over the last year, and found it to be an astounding success with essentially no public comment (as judged by a Google search).

The last available article by the Advocate Stamford Charter School Faces Mixed Reviews seemed to want to pan it before it even got started. There hasn’t been another press article since it started producing startlingly good results last year, but here is the more recent discussion of whether Bronx Excellence should be allowed to open in Norwalk Proposed Charter School Draws Mixed Reaction, which eventually got approved.

Among other things, Norwalk’s Superintendent Steven Adamowski stated “decision to (permit Norwalk Excellence) might also possibly threaten the district’s already underfunded Education Cost Sharing grant from the state”. He goes on to make a number of other claims about charters which seem will seem at odd’s with the evidence which will be presented below. Very similar to Stamford, all of Norwalk’s public elementaries underperformed Stamford Excellence then, and have made no improvement to narrow the gap as of 2018.

State Headed for Another Charter School Showdown shows the wariness of political leadership on both the Democrat and Replican sides, mostly down to grumpling about costs which again seem off base when the test case of Stamford Excellence is considered.

Searchable Edsight Raw Data

In keeping with past posts, Redwall makes the full dataset available for any reader’s perusal. To see the number of test takers, English and Math scores and/or student demographics group of any of Connecticut’s 1,400 public elementary schools over the last five years, just type the name in the search field in Figure 1 below. Although the DOE hosts this on expensive SAS software, the data can be surprisingly inaccessible compared to this free open source application using R.

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