Periodically, President Obama, Secretary of Education Duncan, or various newspapers will highlight so-called “miracle” schools (often charters) that have made quick and dramatic gains in test scores or graduation rates. The message is — since they can do it, why can’t the rest of us? Often, however, the student attrition rates behind those achievements are ignored. In other words, these schools often don’t make these gains with the same students, or they really don’t have a 100% graduation rate if you look at who they started with…

I thought it would be useful to create a beginning list of posts and articles documenting some of the facts behind these inaccurate claims. This is just a beginning list, though, and I hope readers will made additional suggestions:

Here are my choices for The Best Posts About Attrition Rates At So-Called “Miracle” Schools:

Miracle schools, vouchers and all that educational flim-flam is by Diane Ravitch.

Urban Prep and The Whole Story is by Chris Lehmann.

Where have all the KIPPsters gone? is by Caroline Grannan.

You’ll find an interesting dialogue in the comments section about Caroline’s post. This next article might also contribute to that discussion:

Do self-selection and attrition matter in KIPP schools? appeared in the Washington Post.

A question about Memphis school Obama chose was published in The Washington Post.

KIPP’s Atrocious Attrition and Expulsions from New Orleans Charters are posts by Gary Rubinstein.

Garry Rubinstein has also helped start a Miracle Schools wiki to coordinate research on this phenomena. I’m adding it to the same “The Best…” list.

I’ve previously written two posts about this topic:

One Very Disappointing Part Of President Obama’s Speech Today

TIME Magazine Can Do Better Than This…

An Interesting Few Days
is by Diane Ravitch and The “90/90/90 Schools” Myth is by Justin Baeder at Ed Week. Though they don’t specifically deal with attrition issues at so-called “miracle” schools, they raise other important challenges to them, so I’m adding both posts to this list. Education ‘Miracles’ Don’t Survive Scrutiny is by Mike Rose and is in a similar vein.

Some Charters finally admit attrition — then rationalize it is by Gary Rubenstein.

Peer Effects And Attrition In High-Profile Charter Schools is another great post from The Shanker Blog.

Virgin Mary On A Grilled Cheese And Other Miracles is by Gary Rubinstein.

If You Believe in Miracles, Don’t Read This is by Diane Ravitch.

Do You Believe in Miracles? is by Diane Ravitch.

Getting Real About Turnarounds is by Diane Ravitch.

Frozen Water & “Miracle” Schools

Here’s something that is connected to the topic of this post: What Really Happened At The School Where ‘Every Senior Got Into College’ is from NPR.


T.M. Landry and the Tragedy of Viral Success Stories is from The NY Times.

How T.M. Landry College Prep failed black families appeared in The Conversation.

The Scandal That Reveals the Fiction of America’s Educational Meritocracy appeared in The Atlantic.

Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy – known for 100% college acceptance rates – put reputation ahead of results is from The Conversation.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome!

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You might also want to explore the nearly 700 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.