Closing underperforming charters

The California Charter Schools Association is pushing a plan to close low-performing charter schools, reports the LA Times.

Under the organization’s proposal, school districts that authorize charter schools would review them based on their “predicted performance” on standardized tests. This would be determined by comparing charter students to their peers in traditional public schools who have similar backgrounds and a past record of similar test scores. The idea is to measure the “value added” by a charter school.

Schools that miss the targets by 10 percent would lose their charter and be forced to close.

Poor performing schools are giving strong charters a bad name. And charter authorizers have been slow to close schools that don’t measure up.

Nationwide, 4,600 charter schools now educate 1.4 million students, reports the National Alliance for Public Charter School’s dashboard. That’s up 11 percent in one year.

Charters serve a higher percentage of non-white students and students from low-income families than other public schools.  62% of public charter school students are non-white and 48% qualify for free and reduced-price lunch (compared with 47% non-white and 45% free and reduced price lunch in other public schools).

Ten states have no charter schools.

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  1. If the California Charter Schools Association had their organizational head screwed on straight they’d pick some attainment standards, find some charters willing to put their claims to the test and then make sure that the charters that measure up get the CCSA seal of approval.

    While the charter that trumpets its quality and can prove their claims won’t necessarily get chosen over a charter that disdains crude “numericalizations” of educational quality, that’s the way the smart money will bet.

    Rendering parents superfluous is a good deal of what’s gotten the district system into the fix it’s in. Emulating the district system is a good way to anger parents since, good school or bad, their responsibility is being usurped.

  2. The problem with this proposal is that it penalizes charters that do not “teach to the test”. A lot of the virtual charter programs are like this. Their standardized test scores may not be as high as would be predicted because many of the parents who are homeschooling through the charters frankly don’t care about the CA standards and STAR tests. They only have their students take the tests because they’re required to enroll in the charter and receive the curriculum stipend. I know a number of families in our homeschool support group and enrolled in the local virtual charter who did NO test prep at all with their kids. The kids are learning plenty, but it may or may not line up with what’s on the state tests.