About a year ago Jim Tallon, a member of the Board of Regents from Newburgh, asked Commissioner King to investigate charter schools dumping kids into public schools before the state tests. Other Regent members nodded in agreement and asked for a report – were charter schools discharging kids, especially lower achieving kids, prior to the state tests? Ken Wagner, the State Ed data guy waffled, it’s possible, maybe by next fall. Fall has come and gone – and no report.
Every student has a unique ID number as does every school in the state, schools file monthly admit/discharge reports, and this is not an overly complex task.
Why is State Ed so reticent to answer the question?
Do charter schools discharge lower achieving students prior to the state tests, and, if so, how does it impact school test score data?
If the test scores of kids discharged after January 1 were attributed to the sending schools how would it impact test scores?
Charters must go through a renewal process every five years – the State Education Department has the responsibility to review the overall operation of the school, from leadership to financial operations to achievement. A detailed report is presented to the Regents with a recommendation. The Brooklyn Scholars Charter School came before the Regents with a recommendation for a two-year renewal.
Read full renewal report here: http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/F89B7410-805B-45BD-A209-199BB5531649/0/BrooklynScholarsRenewalReportFinal.pdf
While the Progress Report grade moved from a “B” to a “C” to a “D,” compared to other schools in District 19 the school outperformed the District 19 schools, except the school only has half the number of students with disabilities as other district schools and no English language learners.
The law requires that charter schools must “…meet or exceed enrollment and retention targets for students with disabilities and English language learners … Repeated failure to comply is a cause for termination or revocation of the charter.”
In each of its years of operation the school failed to increase numbers of students with disabilities or English language learners. The school has laid out a detailed plan to address the issue going forward.
The report failed to address “retention,” do schools excessively discharge students and who are they?
What is disturbing is that in October, 2012 the State University (SUNY) issued a dense report establishing a process for establishing enrollment and retention targets. (See report here http://www.suny.edu/board_of_trustees/webcastdocs/eandrtargetspacket.pdf).
The public school sector looks upon charter schools with suspicion. A few days ago a principal complained that over the last few weeks she had received eight students from charter schools – all the students well below grade level in ELA and Math skills; of course, this might be an anomaly.
The barrage of TV commercials that have blanketed the area rave about the achievement of charter schools in comparison to public schools. If charter schools are achieving at a higher rate the question is: why?
What are they doing differently? Or, are the increased scores due to discharging lower achieving students?
Let’s not forget how the state legislature came to create charter schools. In December, 1998 Governor Pataki called the legislature into session – a lame duck session – with two items on the agenda: a salary increase for legislators coupled with creation of charter schools. Charter schools were the spawn of a crass political deal.
If you ask charter school parents, “Why do you like charter schools” you receive a discomforting answer, “They kick out the ‘bad’ kids and teachers don’t have to deal with students with disabilities or kids who can’t speak English.”
The “tale of two cities” is moving toward two school systems – private, parochial and charter schools on one side and public schools on the other, one system for the privileged and the parents with social capital and another for the remainder.
The governor, the mayor, the Regents and the legislature can either accept the divide or not, ultimately it will be up to the electorate.
Tossing a few electeds out of office over the Common Core, or high stakes testing or charter schools will catch the attention of the officeholders, or, perhaps we are on the way towards two categories of schools.