High suspension rates don’t explain high test scores at no-excuses charter schools, write Robin Lake and Richard Whitmire in USA Today. She directs the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell, while he’s the author of On the Rocketship: How Top Charter Schools are Pushing the Envelope.
What counts is not whether students are suspended, but whether they transfer to another school, Lake and Whitmire argue.
Take Boston’s high-performing Brooke Charter Schools as an example. The suspension rate there is 20%. Sounds high, but the attrition rate is only 5.5%.
“We use suspension to help draw clear lines about the responsibilities all members of our school communities have to each other,” says Brooke founder Jon Clark.
In high-poverty Ward 8 of Washington, D.C., about 90% of Achievement Prep students re-enroll each year — an astonishing number for a high-transient neighborhood. Their academic record is just as striking, and there’s no evidence the school pushes out “bad” students.
New York’s Success Academies draw the most complaints, in part because their low-income and minority students outperform many middle-class schools in the city. Something must be amiss, right? And yet the attrition rate there for the past few years is about 10%, far lower than many schools in the same neighborhoods.
New Orleans charters with high expulsion rates are modifying their discipline policies to retain more students, they write.