In her May 29 Metro article, Debbi Wilgoren wrote about the success of the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy. In 2000 the school enrolled 79 ninth-graders. Four years later, 29 students graduated, but the school is considered a success because all 29 plan to go to college. So what about the rest of the kids?

"Two dozen or so" of the Class of 2004 have left the school since ninth grade, or a little more than 30 percent of the class. Another two dozen have been held back, some more than once.

So the recipe for success is:

* Let about one-third of your students leave.

* Hold back about one-third of your students.

* Graduate about one-third of eligible students.

* Celebrate because all of your graduates got into college.

It would have been interesting to compare these graduation and college-bound rates with similar numbers from the D.C. Public Schools, to which Chavez offers an alternative.

I do not mean to belittle the hard work of the Chavez students who graduated; they are accomplished young men and women. But shouldn't there be far more than 29 of them if the school itself is to be praised for its great success?

NANCY SHARKEY

Washington