November 20, 2012

Major charter school scandal exposed

 For many years, we have assumed that the charter vs public school debate was rigged in favor of charters by their ability to get rid of students who weren't doing well. This, by retired DC school teacher Erich Martel, details the practice in the nation's capital

Erich Martel - If we were to believe the DC Public School Charter Board and its lobbyist like Friends of Choice in Urban Schools, most DCPS schools should be closed and transferred to charter operators.

DC’s public charters’ promise of a safe environment and an academic focus attract the more engaged parents. They keep a safe environment by expulsions, suspensions and, above all, by transferring low performing and disruptive students and most of them go back to DC public school system

[Here's the way it works]

First: Attract the families most eager for an alternative;

Second: Cull through this self-selected group and transfer the students who don’t meet school standards.

Third: Selective reports of indicators like school test results, graduation rates

When one tracks cohorts of students (peer groups as they move up the grades each year), the numbers of students that the charters transfer each year becomes evident:

From all charter schools:
- Between Oct 2008 and Oct 2009, 884 students were transferred from charter schools

- Between Oct 2009 and Oct 2010, 1318 students were transferred

- Between Oct 2010 and Oct 2011, 1760 students were transferred

For the past eight years, charter schools’ enrollment fell between grade 9 and 10, 10 and 11 and 11 and 12 and, with one exception, between grades 7 and 8. In addition, for the past three years, they lost students between grades 1 and 2.

Where to? Mostly to [the DC public school system].

Charter schools use two loopholes that inflate their reports: omitting closed charter schools from their cohort numbers and students transferred back to DCPS or to non-DC schools

Charters can claim a higher graduation rate, because they transfer students to DCPS or to other [local educational agencies], if they are in danger of dropping out.

In fact, over the five year period of DC CAS tests, 2007 to 2011, the charter schools transferred an average of over 40% of their 9th grade enrollment (equal to an average of 730 students) prior to the administration of the grade 10 DC CAS test in April of the 10th grade year. In other words, in the 18th months between the grade 9 enrollment and the grade 10 test, 40% of the 9th grade enrollment was dropped from the charter schools. Who did they drop? Students likely to do poorly on their tests. Where did they go? Mostly to DCPS.

The deception behind the failure to accurately report these data allows the false perception that the charter schools are providing a superior education than DCPS.

No comments: