CSP today released its yearly set of ‘scatterplots’, charts showing where most charter schools in the state rank utilizing the 2013 and 2014 two-year composite of the state’s Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR), which is data from the state’s annual assessments (MCA’s) for Grades 3-12. In addition, Minneapolis and St. Paul charter school scatterplots are put alongside their district counterparts.
In broad terms, the scatterplots tell us three things:
1. More and more charters are among the top public schools in the state: 57 charters, or almost 40% of all charters in the state, are ranked in the upper right hand quadrant (60th percentile or above, which correlate to Reward and Celebration Eligible categories in the MMR ranking). This, along with the two-dozen other schools clustered near the top rankings, is a substantial improvement over previous years. (CSP will be releasing more in-depth analyses of the MMR in the coming weeks and months detailing this academic improvement).
2. There is a very strong group of charters successfully serving low-income, students of color in the urban core: As the yearly Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Beating the Odds chart illustrates, a group of charter schools, particularly in Minneapolis and St. Paul, are successfully serving low-income, students of color. In Minneapolis alone, a dozen charters serving low-income populations are either in or very near near the upper right hand quadrant. Only three MPS District schools can make that claim.
3. There continues to be a consistent group of chronically low performing charters that do not seem to be improving: There are 38 charter schools, representing 19% of charters in Minnesota, that are persistently in the lowest 15% performing public schools in the state (Priority or Focus Schools ). One caveat: at least a quarter of these schools (such as the High School for the Recording Arts) primarily serve students who are “at-risk” for not graduating from high school. These include students in credit-recovery programs, those with special education needs, adjudicative youth, or older immigrant children who recently arrived in the U.S. as English language learners. (There is no “alternative school” designation for charter schools in Minnesota law).
CSP has an ongoing commitment to present relevant and user-friendly data. The scatterplots are just one way we do that. We will be releasing additional research on this year’s MMR and other data on an ongoing basis.
In 2011, the Minnesota Department of Education released its first Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR) system as part of the federal waiver from the NCLB. The multiple measures include proficiency, growth, achievement gap reductions, and graduation rates (for high schools). While this rating did a better job showing the impact schools are having on students than just basic proficiency and growth metrics, there were clearly some anomalies and single-year fluctuations that seemed to impact smaller schools, which included many charter schools.
To Commissioner Cassellius’ and MDE’s credit, the department sought input from a group of charter school representatives, including CSP, asking how the measurement could be improved to more accurately reflect charter school ratings. The October 1, 2014 release of the MMR information incorporates these changes .The MMR numbers also represent a two-year composite (2013 and 2014) utilizing the new formulas.