Update: Wrong About Urban Prep?

image from user.cloudfront.goodinc.comEducation historian Diane Ravitch noted some holes in the claims and accomplishments of Urban Prep and several other reform success stories in a recent NYT oped, but Urban Prep head Tim King says Ravitch got it wrong over all (about poverty and achievement) and about Urban Prep in particular:  "To be sure, the test scores of our students still have plenty of room for improvement. But Ravitch implies that low test scores mean that our perfect college acceptance record doesn't matter. Our graduates, she and others suggest, won't succeed in college and so our school is not really making a big difference. Yet the fact is that our graduates are already succeeding in four-year colleges: roughly 80 percent of Urban Prep's 2010 graduates who went to college completed their first year." Take a look and let us know what you think. Are you on Team Ravitch, or Team King? 


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  • Basically Mr. King is arguing now, yes the vast majority of Urban Prep students can not read at state standards but that is also true for black students in general in CPS. Yes somehow Urban Prep is able to find four year colleges that will accept these students with very low ACT scores. But because of the values Urban Prep instills everything will be ok for these students and they will all get BA degrees at least. Mr. King also seems to believe that these BA graduates from Urban Prep will also reap some type of serious economic benefit from a degree coming from non-competetive four year colleges.

    I guess only time will tell if all that is true. I would very much like the Consortium on Chicago School research to take on a long term examination of this issue. I know there are many on this blog that question the Consortium's objectivity, but I believe on a relatively simple issues like claims of college completion they could provide a reasonable assessment.

    However, I do guess if the Consortium did find that significant numbers of Urban Prep students do not get BAs Mr. King will then argue - well at least some did and that is better than what would have happened had out school not been an option for these students.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Whether the students reap an economic benefit from college or not, surely college provides other benefits. Enhanced social networks, a sense of accomplishment, a determination to have your children follow in your footsteps.

    The article by Mr. King projected hope, confidence in the children, and determination. How often can you say the same thing about the posts on this blog?

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    urban prep just announced a slew of personnel changes at home office, for what it's worth:

    "Evan Lewis, our Vice President of Institutional Advancement, is leaving Urban Prep at the end of the month. Evan was the first person I hired at Urban Prep and has been here since before our schools even opened. In addition to his fundraising and communications responsibilities, Evan recruited our first class and supervised the admissions process for all subsequent classes.

    While Evan will be missed, we are lucky to have Kelly Dickens take his place. Kelly, who volunteered for Urban Prep in the year leading up to our opening and during our first year of operation, earned a BA from Morehouse College and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. He's held marketing and brand management positions with Smarterville, Inc., Accenture Consulting, DDB Chicago Advertising and the Danaher Corporation. For the past several weeks, Kelly has been working in a consulting capacity with us and so I am confident that the transition in leadership will be a smooth one.

    We have added Brandon Brooks as the Director of Special Events to our Institutional Advancement team. Brandon holds a Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University and joins us after completing a year-long internship in Nairobi, Kenya with the global nonprofit TechnoServe.

    Also effective July 1, Troy Boyd will become our new Director of Alumni Affairs. Troy is a native Chicagoan who has worked at Urban Prep in a variety of capacities since he graduated from Northwestern University including as Pride Coordinator, Assistant Dean, and Assistant to the CEO.

    And finally, my new assistant will be Jeff Bakkensen. Jeff was a member of our first Urban Prep Fellows Program cohort and so for the last year has been serving as a full-time volunteer mentor, tutor, and Pride Leader at Urban Prep. Jeff is a graduate of the country's greatest school (and, coincidentally, my alma mater) Georgetown University.

    The last five years since we opened our first school have been tremendously successful because of the hard work of Evan Lewis and the rest of Team UP. Our newest members have big shoes to fill, but I am confident they will live-UP to the challenge.

    end / what do you make of these changes, if anything? do you know any of these folks?

  • Diane Ravitch's book should be mandatory reading for every Chicago teacher, Mayor Emanual, Arnie Duncan, and all members of the Board. You have highlighted only Urban Prep. She makes a very convincing case for how her thinking changed from support of the original concept of charter schools to how this concept has been hijacked by politics. She traces the movement from its start, and using real facts and statistics, show how it has failed. Her book concludes with a plan of what is really needed to improve public education. READ IT!

  • not about urban prep accuracy exactly, but there's a big cover story about ravitch in the washington DC city paper now -- their version of the reader


  • The article is perfectly clear that the first-year completion percentage was of those who elected to attend college. HEre is the quote: "roughly 80 percent of Urban Prep's 2010 graduates who went to college completed their first year". You are correct that the data on what percentage elected to attend is not provided, but that is hardly "stats being manipulated". When you make a charge like that, it helps to be correct lest you lose credibility.

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