In 2011, Harlem Day was arguably the worst elementary school in the city, Bloomberg and Andrew told their audience as servers floated around the darkened, East 60th Street restaurant offering dumplings and sushi rolls. Last spring, the State University of New York charter school authorizer granted Democracy Prep permission to take over Harlem Day, now called Harlem Prep.
The Wall Street Journal reported last June that 40 percent of students were held back, including two-thirds of fifth-graders. Teachers at the benefit put that number even higher, with some saying they thought as many as 70 percent of students had repeated a grade after Democracy Prep took over.
You know what would make your test scores look even better? Sending kids back a grade.
Also, remember that holding kids back is not free. Holding back 100 kids in Providence (for example) costs the local, state and federal governments about $1,400,000 but doesn't cost a charter school anything (or show up on most cost comparisons).