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Charter school principal: I don't "cream" my students. Do you?

Among those who have commented on Elizabeth’s post about journalist Jay Mathews’ seven KIPP myths are one of the charter school chain’s most vocal critics; a graduate of a KIPP school in Philadelphia; and Mathews himself. It’s a vibrant discussion and one you should check out.

One topic of debate is whether KIPP schools “cream” students — that is, whether the students who enter their lotteries are better prepared academically or socially, thus priming the schools to outperform their local competitors. In the comments section of Elizabeth’s post, Seth Andrew, the head of Harlem’s Democracy Prep Charter School, argues that other public schools are far more guilty than charters of creaming. He writes:

Traditional Public Schools “cream” far more than charter schools throughout New York. I attended NYC Public schools from grade k-12, and I always took a test before being enrolled. The NYC middle school process evaluates students by their test scores, grades, attendance, and even has parent interviews for a number of traditional public schools. Whether it’s great traditional public schools like FDA, Bronx Science, or Anderson, that require specific entry requirements or G&T tests, or traditional schools that select based on other factors, traditional public schools are far more guilty of “creaming” (both in terms of agressiveness and quantity of students effected) than charters could ever be. We have a legal mandate to enroll by a random lottery.

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