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Gary Rubinstein's Blog: Steve Perry and P. Diddy Harlem Charter School: Only One 8th Grader Proficient on State Math Test

Dr. Steve Perry is an outspoken education reformer who has billed himself ‘America’s most trusted educator.’ He also once called the teacher’s unions ‘roaches.’ He founded a chain of charter schools called Capital Preparatory which has a few schools in Connecticut and, more recently, three schools in New York. The Capital Preparatory Harlem school was co-founded by performer Sean P. Diddy Combs.

The statistic that the school uses in all its promotional materials which is often quoted in the media, most recently in this Harlem local paper is that 100% of their graduates are accepted into four year colleges. The article also mentions how Capital Prep was a finalist in the YASS charter school competition. As a finalist, they got $500,000.

The 100% college acceptance graduation rate, though, implies that the students at the school have been successful in their academics. So I thought I’d go to the public New York State data site to see if this is the case.

In general, the test scores at the Perry / P. Diddy school are some of lowest in the city. Most notable is that in their 8th grade class of 71 students, exactly 1 scored a passing score of a 3 on the recent state tests.


School wide, only 6% of the students in all grades got a 3 on the math state test.

For the older grades, I see that no students passed the Geometry or the Algebra II Regents exams.

Now I’m not saying that test scores are everything, but when only 1 out of 71 8th graders gets a 3 on the state test, this definitely runs counter to the image that the 100% college acceptance rate is supposed to indicate.

The New York Capital Prep schools have only been open for a few years, but the Connecticut Capital Prep schools have been around for over 15 years. So I also looked at the Connecticut publicly available data, which has a lot of useful information on it.

One thing I found was that their Four-Year graduation rate has been as low as 56% in recent years.


On the college readiness index, the school fared very poorly


Also the college entrance rate for 2020 was not 100% but about 77%


And their state test scores in general are consistently below the state average


And of course there is some attrition so that the 100% isn’t really100%. This is from the U.S. News & World report data for the Capital Prep Magnet School in Connecticut. The New York schools don’t have such bad attrition so far.

That school also had 0% passing an AP exam even though 38% took an AP exam


So anytime you see a claim that some school is beating the odds because they have a 100% college acceptance rate, you should know that there is usually more to the story than that one statistic.

I haven’t heard much about Steve Perry in the past few years. Like Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan, the reformers of the around 2005 to 2012 peak of the reform era have been keeping a low profile. Still, there are puff pieces in local papers that can be misleading so it is good to do a quick debunking of a miracle school for old time’s sake.

Here’s Peter Green on Steve Perry.

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Gary Rubinstein

Gary Rubinstein is a high school math teacher. He is the recipient of the 2005 Math for America Master Teacher Fellowship. ...