Summit Preparatory High, a top-scoring charter school in Redwood City, California lacks bad students, say local school officials. The charter needs a local sponsor due to a change in state law, but Sequoia Union High School District claims the school doesn’t have enough low-performing students. From the San Mateo Times:
One of the main reasons the California Legislature passed the charter school law, Sequoia Superintendent Pat Gemma said, was to provide more options for struggling students. So far, he said, the data Summit has given the district shows the school is not serving this purpose.
In the school’s current sophomore and junior classes, there are no students that are in the “far below basic” category in English on the state standardized test results, Gemma said.
Furthermore, he said about 75 percent of these students are at “proficient” or “advanced proficient” in English language arts.
Summit Executive Director Diane Tavenner counters that students aren’t doing as well in math with a third of advanced algebra students in the “far below basic” category.
About half of Summit students are white and many come from affluent Menlo Park and Portola Valley families, but 35 percent are Hispanic, typically from blue-collar families. Next fall, the high school will add a senior class and reach 375 students.
All Summit students take challenging college-prep classes, with extra help for those who need it. The minimum passing grade is a “C” to ensure all graduates will be eligible for college.
Junior Arturo Calderon, 17, said his parents wanted him to go to Summit to avoid getting involved with gangs and drugs.
He failed English and history when he first started there in ninth grade. But after attending summer school, he is getting better grades and hopes to attend San Jose State University.
Sequoia, the local high school district, is losing students to a number of new charter schools of which Summit is the most successful, as well as to private schools. I’ve visited the charter and was very impressed.