“Charter schools are one of the great success stories of education reform in Massachusetts,” writes James Peyser, former chair of the state board of education, in the Boston Globe.
On last spring’s MCAS, almost 75 percent of Commonwealth charter schools outperformed their host districts in English and math, with average proficiency rates that were almost 8 percentage points higher than neighboring district schools. Almost one-fifth of Commonwealth charter schools had proficiency rates that surpassed their local district average by over 20 points. Some of the highest performing charter schools are located in some of the lowest achieving school districts.
The flip side is that low-performing charter schools are supposed to lose their charters. But the state is having a hard time closing unsuccessful schools, especially when it means displacing students. Peyser suggests transferring control of low-performing schools to new operators who can demonstrate “experience and proven success.”
Recipients of these transferred charters would have an obligation to enroll all the current students who chose to stay on, but they would not be obliged to retain the staff or continue the existing educational programs.
This makes sense. Sometimes the original charter team lacks the managerial skill or the educational savvy to raise scores, but the school is good enough — compared to local district-run schools — to retain students. New charter management could make the difference.