“Their graduation rates were nearly 40 percentage points higher than the rates in the schools they replaced. In 2006, the small schools' graduation rates exceeded those of comparable schools in the district by 18 percentage points.”
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), of the Institute for Education Sciences, the research arm of the US Dept. of Education, produces objective analyses of education research. In a recent report, the WWC summarized all the available research on dropout prevention programs and strategies, including 84 evaluations of 22 programs, and found only four that had positive results, in terms of helping students stay in school longer and/or progressing more rapidly. A few programs showed some evidence of helping students to graduate from school.
Guess which programs/schools had no convincing evidence of improved results? The NYC small schools funded by Gates. The WWC analyzed twelve different studies of NYC’s small schools, called “New Century High Schools” and found:
No studies of the New Century High Schools Initiative that fell within the scope of the Dropout Prevention review meet WWC evidence standards. The lack of studies meeting WWC evidence standards means that, at this time, the WWC is unable to draw any conclusions based on research about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of New Century High Schools.
Here is an excerpt from the New Visions press release, boasting about the results of these schools, as reported in the final Policy Studies Associates study, a supposedly independent evaluation that was also funded by the Gates Foundation:
New York, NY October 16, 2007 -- An independent research study of 75 New Century High Schools (NCHS) reports a significantly higher average graduation rate than the citywide average in the first schools with graduating classes. The study also notes higher rates of student retention, promotion, and attendance than in other
What did WWC say about this and the other PSA reports, as well as two West Ed studies, also funded by Gates?
These studies were rejected, because “the intervention and comparison groups are not shown to be equivalent at baseline” – meaning that the students who attended the new small high schools were not shown to be similar to those to whom they were being compared.
Six other studies of the NYC small schools were rejected, “because [they do] not examine the effectiveness of an intervention,” including this one from the Carnegie Foundation, “Small schools in the big city: Promising results validate reform efforts in New York City high schools.
The Institute for Education Studies has concluded, by the way, that that class size reduction is one of only four, evidence-based reforms that through rigorous, randomized experiments have been proven to work – the "gold standard" of research. None of the strategies attempted by the NYC Department of Education under Joel Klein's leadership were cited.