Reform · Students

Diane Ravitch Reposts Pelto’s Misleading Article about Capital Prep and Calls it Fact

Perhaps following the adage that if you repeat a lie enough, it becomes fact, Diane Ravitch recently posted an excerpt of Jon Pelto’s error-ridden blog post on Capital Prep.

In the original article, Pelto claims Capital Prep’s success is exaggerated, and then proceeds to cherry-pick one data point to prove it.

You’d think an acclaimed education professor like Ravitch would be able to spot manipulated data a mile away, but alas, rather than fact-check his evidence, Ravitch takes Pelto at his word.

Unlike Ravitch and Pelto, I actually looked at all the data. What I found was Capital Prep is doing exceedingly well.

Yes, Capital Prep isn’t perfect, but when you take ALL the data into consideration, it’s clear the school is doing far better than most schools in Hartford.

Take a look at my findings as noted in a previous Education Bridgeport blog entry:


Pelto’s argues Capital Prep isn’t any better at teaching students than district schools. Unfortunately for Pelto, Capital Prep’s overall CMT SPI proves otherwise:

Performance by Subject
Subject Capital Prep SPI Hartford DPI Bridgeport DPI
Math 61.4 42.8 53.9
Reading 65.7 51 49
Writing 82.7 65.2 63.5
Science 74.4 52.3 48.4


Yes. Contrary to what was posted on Pelto’s blog, Capital Prep students outperformed their district peers this year in Every. Single. Subject.

Yes, the test scores of African American students who attend Capital Prep do appear to be lower than the overall district average, but that alone doesn’t give a complete picture of what’s going on at Capital Prep.

The lower SPI for African American students seems to specifically stem from low math scores. While this is not great, the silver lining is that these same students were on par with their district counterparts in both reading and writing, and did much better than the district average in science:

African American Students
Subject Capital Prep SPI Hartford DPI Bridgeport DPI
Math 48.3 55.5 50.3
Reading 60.9 58.8 47.1
Writing 71.9 72.1 62.6
Science 61 54.6 45.5


Additionally, Capital Prep’s Hispanic and Latino students are doing much better than their district peers in every subject. In some subjects, the difference in SPI to the district average is over ten points. Capital Prep students with disabilities also have higher SPI scores then the DPI average in both reading and math (data for the other subjects is not available):

Hispanic and Latino Students
Subject Capital Prep SPI Hartford DPI Bridgeport DPI
Math 59.1 48.8 53.6
Reading 59.6 46.4 47.1
Writing 74.8 62.9 61.3
Science 56.9 68.2 47.4
Students with Disabilities
Subject Capital Prep SPI Hartford DPI Bridgeport DPI
Math 35.4 30.5 28.7
Reading 31.6 30.8 27.7


Pelto, of course, failed to mention these other sub-groups of students. I mean, why report information that doesn’t support your pre-determined argument. Amirite?

Keep in mind, if you look at the growth data, Capital Prep takes in a higher percentage of low performing students than the District as a whole. Meaning, you can’t say Capital Prep takes only the best students, since on average most Capital Prep kindergarten students start out below their district peers.

If you take all this into consideration, plus the fact that Capital Prep has a 97 percent graduation rate (95 percent for African American students) in a city which suffers from a 64 percent overall graduation rate — Capital Prep is actually doing a fantastic job!



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