How Are We Doing?

Apart from renovating the new space at 9 Hanover, hiring additional staff, planning professional development, ordering supplies, meeting with real estate developers, and running summer school, it has been relaxing here at ICS this past month.



While we miss your kids, the truth is we are taking care of much essential work while the building is less crowded.

Among that is analyzing the data on your children's academic progress in the past few years and identifying opportunities to strengthen our practices. You'll remember that about 40 of our 3rd graders took exams in math and English in April. The State will release those results on Oct 4th.

But we have results from the Dibels tests we give three times a year to all 300 students. Dibels is a early literacy assessment used by thousands of schools, developed at the University of Oregon in the late 1980s. We have used it since August 2015 when ICS opened.

We look both at proficiency (where do these results stack up) and progress (how have the results changed over time)

In June 2018 the median ICS student scored in the 77th percentile on the Dibels English test. This means half our students did better than 77% of all kids in America who took this test. By comparison when we gave this test at the end of our first year, in June 2016, the median student scored in the 58th percentile. Based on this assessment, we think ICS students are pretty proficient.

Of course ICS is growing so we can't exactly say we gained 19 points, because our mix of students changes.

But for students who started kindergarten and 1st grade with us in 2015, the change was from the 63rd percentile to the 82nd percentile. Which is to say the median student who stayed at ICS for two years scored higher than 82% of all children who were given the Dibels test nationwide. This is particularly remarkable as the tests get harder each year - the kids are expected to know more - so just maintaining the same percentile is considered typical growth.

Another important goal for ICS is to serve an economically diverse student body. In that regard our recruiting efforts have been successful - about 33% of our students are economically disadvantaged ("ED") compared to 27% at three neighboring charter schools that pursue a similar strategy.

ED children face academic challenges. At ICS the median ED student was in the 56th percentile in June 2016, lower, but not too dissimilar from the average (see the 1st paragraph above). By June 2018 that median ED student scored in the 63rd percentile. Growth, but below the average change among all ICS students.


As with the general population,  ED kids who have been at ICS for two years saw more growth. The change was from the 51st percentile to the 73rd - a 22 point change. That is heartening news and a lot of growth. The gap in percentile scores between the ED group and the general population dropped from 12 points to 9 points.


Another way to look at growth is the change students achieve in a single year. Since hundreds of thousands of students take the Dibels every year, we have very precise data on how much their scores would be expected to change in a given year. As the table to the left shows, 65% of our students experienced above typical growth last year.

Lastly, I should mention the consistency of the growth we are seeing in the Dibels scores - 47% of the students who've been with us for two years saw their percentile increase in both years; only 11% saw their scores fall in both years.

The New York state exams are the measure on which our authorizer, the Charter School Institute, relies most heavily. But if these results in English are illustrative, we think they (and you) will be very pleased.

Matthew Levey