Did the Achievement First Charter School Chain Cheat on the Connecticut SBAC tests?

The case has been repeatedly made that that the Common Core SBAC testing scheme is unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory.  Designed to fail students, many of the questions on the SBAC test covered material that students had not even been taught.

However, from day one, the charter school industry has been among the SBAC testing program’s greatest champions.  The Achievement First Charter School Chain, along with Connecticut’s two major charter school advocacy groups, ConnCAN and CCER, have spent millions of dollars lobbying in favor of the Common Core SBAC testing system and Governor Dannel Malloy’s “education reform” agenda.

In recent days, both charter school lobbying groups have written commentary pieces lauding the SBAC testing scam.

See:  For the sake of Connecticut’s children, embrace the SBAC data (By ConnCAN’s Jennifer Alexander) and Connecticut’s students must be challenged in school (By CCER’s Jeffrey Villar)

Now that Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has finally released the results of the 2015 SBAC testing, parents, students and teachers and taxpayers can see just how unfair and discriminatory the massive and expensive SBAC testing program is.

But beyond the major underlying problems with the SBAC tests, an incredible issue immediately stands out when reviewing the SBAC test results.

The results “achieved” by the Achievement First charter schools chain of charter schools are extraordinarily different than the results from other schools across Connecticut.

Take a look the data…

Statewide, the number of students that met or exceeded the pre-determined “Achievement Level” in MATH ranged from 30.6% for 11th graders up 48% for 3rd graders.  This means that there was a total variation in the percent of students reaching the “Achievement Level”  of 17.4% across grade levels.

Total Variation:  48% – 30.6% = 17.4%

Grade Percent at Level 3 & 4:
Meets or Exceeds the Achievement Level
3 48.0%
4 44.2%
5 36.9%
6 37.3%
7 38.8%
8 36.8%
11 30.6%

 

The variation in the percent of students reaching “goal” across grade levels was even less in Connecticut’s major cities;

The MATH achievement by grade in the Hartford public school ranged by 6.7%

The MATH achievement by grade in New Haven public school ranged by 5.6%

The MATH achievement by grade in New Haven public schools ranged by 10%

But unlike Connecticut’s statewide data and the results from other urban school distrticts, the SBAC achievement results at Achievement First charter schools had incredible fluctuations between grade levels – differences that suggest that students in some grades may of had some “assistance” filling in the answers.

Achievement First Hartford Academy reported achievement scores by grade that varied by 48.2%

Achievement First Amistad reported achievement scores by grade that varied by 40.9%

Achievement First Elm City Prep reported achievement scores by grade that varied by 53.8%

Achievement First Bridgeport reported achievement scores by grade that varied by 35.3%

According to the data released by the Connecticut Department of Education on Friday, the variation between grades at Achievement First charter schools was massive, unusual and extremely suspect.

In fact, the Achievement First charter school results are so suspect that the State of Connecticut should take immediate steps to conduct an investigation into whether the large charter school chain instituted some mechanism or system to inflate test results in some grades.

The following is the data released by the Connecticut Department of Education.

  GR SBAC % PROFICIENT VARIATION IN SBAC SCORES BY GRADE
HARTFORD
Hartford School District 03 18.6%
Hartford School District 04 13.7%
Hartford School District 05 13.3%
Hartford School District 06 12.3%
Hartford School District 07 16.3%
Hartford School District 08 11.9%
Hartford School District 11 12.6%
VARIATION IN SBAC SCORES BY GRADE     6.7%
Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. 03 55.1%
Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. 04 46.3%
Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. 05 10.3%
Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. 06 13.9%
Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. 07 23.0%
Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. 08 6.9%
Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. 11 45.2%
VARIATION IN SBAC SCORES BY GRADE     48.2%
NEW HAVEN      
New Haven School District 03 16.9%
New Haven School District 04 11.3%
New Haven School District 05 12.3%
New Haven School District 06 13.7%
New Haven School District 07 12.5%
New Haven School District 08 15.0%
New Haven School District 11 11.5%
VARIATION IN SBAC SCORES BY GRADE     5.6%
Achievement First Inc. Amistad Academy 03 51.1%
Achievement First Inc. Amistad Academy 04 46.1%
Achievement First Inc. Amistad Academy 05 10.2%
Achievement First Inc. Amistad Academy 06 36.4%  
Achievement First Inc. Amistad Academy 07 25.6%
Achievement First Inc. Amistad Academy 08 41.8%
Achievement First Inc. Amistad Academy 11 25.0%
VARIATION IN SBAC SCORES BY GRADE     40.9%
Achievement First Inc. Elm City College Prep. 03 70.7%
Achievement First Inc. Elm City College Prep. 04 52.6%
Achievement First Inc. Elm City College Prep. 05 26.3%
Achievement First Inc. Elm City College Prep. 06 16.9%
Achievement First Inc. Elm City College Prep. 07 46.6%
Achievement First Inc. Elm City College Prep. 08 44.9%
Achievement First Inc. Elm City College Prep. 11 *
VARIATION IN SBAC SCORES BY GRADE     53.8%
BRIDGEPORT    
Bridgeport School District 03 15.0%
Bridgeport School District 04 7.2%
Bridgeport School District 05 <5%
Bridgeport School District 06 8.5%
Bridgeport School District 07 11.6%
Bridgeport School District 08 8.3%
Bridgeport School District 11 6.0%
VARIATION IN SBAC SCORES BY GRADE     10.0%
Bridgeport Achievement First Inc. 03 42.7%
Bridgeport Achievement First Inc. 04 36.0%
Bridgeport Achievement First Inc. 05 7.4%
Bridgeport Achievement First Inc. 06 14.6%
Bridgeport Achievement First Inc. 07 29.0%
Bridgeport Achievement First Inc. 08 39.7%
Bridgeport Achievement First Inc. 11 22.2%
VARIATION IN SBAC SCORES BY GRADE     35.3%

 

  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    You are dammed right we cheated! We can’t handle the truth.

  • ion magic

    Larger districts will have less variation between grades than smaller districts because they have more students in each grade. Charter districts are smaller, so you would expect more variation. Student attrition and teacher turnover at charters would also lead to greater variation between grades. The variation by itself is not an indication of cheating.

    The grade 5 percentages are interesting. Many lower performing schools drop a lot in grade 5, then come back up some by grade 8. This doesn’t make sense, so clearly there are issues with setting the cut scores.

    • Left BonTemps for StoryBrook

      Hi former AF teacher and I can tell you that I do believe they did something dishonest. The students in Hartford were 20 points below on AF’s in house test but miraculously performed better on SBAC. A test that we were told 50% of all students wouldn’t pass and honor students would have trouble with. I didn’t stay at AF for very long because the school is dysfunctional but I’ve heard how state tests are not given with fidelity. I agree, that teacher turnover does play a role but AF Hartford lost fourteen teachers last year not just in one grade level.

      • ion magic

        AF Hartford scores are interesting with 3, 4, and 11 doing very well and the other grades quite poorly. Wouldn’t be the first time a school cheated.

        Unfortunately the state doesn’t provide more detailed information at the school level. It would be interesting to see an average score by grade, or if there were a lot of students very near the cutoff.

        • westernCTteacher

          I’d like to compare them to other charter schools that are similar in size.

  • bioqubit
  • sweetwater

    Why were there different cut scores for different grades to pass?

    Also, why were there different cut scores between Math and ELA to pass. It was much easier to pass ELA than math by about 10%.

    Look just at grade 3- they were given the hardest chance to pass ELA but the easiest chance to Math.

    Specifically for the Math SBAC achievement levels:

    grade 3: 61% to fail 39% to pass ( the greatest # of students
    would pass Math in grade 3)

    grade 4: 63% to fail 37% to pass

    grade 5: 67% to fail 33% to pass

    grade 6: 67% to fail 33% to pass

    grade 7: 67% to fail 33% to pass

    grade 8: 68% to fail 32% to pass (the greatest # of students would
    fail Math in grade 8)

    grade 11: 67% to fail 33% to pass.

    ELA Achievement Levels set by SBAC

    Grade 3: 62% to fail 38% to pass (the greatest # of students would
    fail ELA in grades 3 and 7)

    grade 4: 59% to fail 41% to pass

    grade 5: 56% to fail 44% to pass

    grade 6: 59% to fail 41% to pass

    grade 7: 62% to fail 38% to pass

    grade 8: 59% to fail 41% to
    pass

    grade 11: 59% to fail 41% to pass

    The cut scores were set using the 2014 field test data, which were never released to the public. AIR required student data; race, sex, zip code, race, free/reduced lunch, ELL status, Special Needs status, name, district, school, etc. when scoring the field test.

  • Bluecoat

    Mr. Jonathan, you asked a really good question…
    No doubt, in Louis Lerner and Hillary Clinton fashion, the hard drives have been lost, stolen, and/or destroyed.
    There will be no way to find out now without a whistleblower…..