Stanford charter school falters

One of the worst-performing elementary schools in California is run by Stanford University’s School of Education, reports the Palo Alto Weekly.

East Palo Alto Academy Elementary School, started three years ago, was reorganized with a new principal last fall. It ranks in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state, according to the California Department of Education’s preliminary list. The school serves a low-income community that’s primarily Hispanic, black and Pacific Islander.

Stanford New Schools, a non-profit, runs the elementary and a high school, which is somewhat more successful but still posts below-average scores compared to schools with similar demographics. The high school does send 90 percent of graduates to college.

The elementary school hasn’t met expectations, Stanford Education Dean Deborah Stipek told the Weekly in December.

“In a lot of ways we’ve been very successful in the kind of emotional and family support, but our kids’ skills are not up to what they need to be. It just takes time to get things right.”

In petitioning for renewal of the elementary and high school charter, Stanford New Schools conceded, “We were not satisfied with our students’ achievement gains,” and pledged to redesign “all levels of our system, from governance and management structures to instructional practice and the use of data to drive decision-making.”

Stanford’s Education School has focused on secondary education, so perhaps they have  a lot to learn about running an elementary. I visited the high school when it was new:  Turning theory into practice was proving a challenge. I give Stanford credit for putting its reputation on the line.

Some East Palo Alto charter schools are thriving, including the very successful EPAC, where I once tutored.

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