A Look at Charter Attrition Rates

After WSMV and The City Paper ran stories on charter schools losing “struggling students” to zoned schools in time for TCAP exams, outrage has ensued among parents and charter advocates. While some parents are upset that charter students are being sent back into the school system weeks before the TCAP exam, some charter advocates believe MNPS mislead the news station because “their own scores must not be that hot this year,” “data was skewed & manipulated,” and that MNPS does not care about individual students.

After I read the WSMV article, I emailed MNPS to ask for the same information they gave the WSMV reporter. I received seven documents from the communications office including attrition rates for MNPS and some individual school reports of attrition 9 weeks before the TCAP. Though, after my first communication with the schools, I was told that MNPS and the principal from KIPP Academy met and the school system sent me an updated attrition document that was changed after their meeting. The numbers were a little different, but the top attrition schools were still the same.

UpdatedAttrition

The first chart shows charter schools leading the way in attrition. As others have noted, if you have a smaller set of students, your percentage is higher than larger schools if a few students leave.

But, as you can see from the chart, there are a lot of people leaving all schools, zoned schools included. For Smithson Head Middle, out of an 11th day enrollment of 324, 89 students left while they have taken on 8 students throughout the year. The number of 81 for attrition equates to a -25% attrition rate. They now only enroll 243 students.

For Boys Prep, they had a smaller 11th day enrollment of 100 students. The school lost 39 students, or 39% of their student body this year. They took on 16 students for an attrition of 23 students and a -23% attrition rate. They now only enroll 77 children.

When looking at KIPP Academy, a well known charter, nationally, for it’s high standards and performance, they had an 11th day enrollment of 337. We see that 64 left while 13 came to the school during that time.

KippWDWhile looking at the school specifically, you can see that 20 students left KIPP Academy nine weeks leading up to TCAP. All but one of those 20 students that left had been suspended multiple times. Eight of those 20 are considered “special needs disability” students.

 

LeadWD

 

 

LEAD Academy lost 20 students in the nine weeks leading up to TCAP. Fourteen of those students had been suspended during the year.

 

 

 

 

Drexel1Drexel2

 

 

 

Drexel had 33 students leave within the nine week period, which means that over half of the exits took place within a 9 week period.

 

 

 

 

While more charter schools are on the way, we should be looking at attrition both in charter and in zoned schools. We need to keep more kids from changing schools. As many zoned schools see a large number of students leave their schools, I believe charter schools and zoned schools are different for one main reason: Charter students are not randomly chosen. While families zoned for schools aren’t technically randomly selected for their schools, it’s the best way to describe it. For charters, you have to go out of your way to attend the schools. Parents have to agree to longer schools day, to read to their kids, or other agreements along those lines. For zoned schools, it’s the exact opposite. The parents do nothing and the kids are sent to the school they are zoned to. So while many people are leaving zoned schools, it looks strange to see that parents would go out of their way to enroll their children in a new program to only move to a different school at a later time.

Antioch2

I wanted to show the numbers from my high school for two reasons. One, because there are many people coming and going from zoned schools, as I said earlier. Two, to show people that I attended a school with a graduation rate of 66.9% and a dropout rate of 19.6% the year I graduated. I hear continued arguments that those families who may come from nicer areas of Nashville should not have a point of view on this topic because they go to nicer schools. First, all families should be able to voice their opinions without getting attacked for where they live. I went to a school where over half of the students are considered “Economically Disadvantaged” and hallways were lined with gangs. Does that mean my opinion matters more than those who went to (fill in the school that you always site as being better than others)? No, they don’t.

When more people, both with children in the school system and not, care about our education system, it will get better. That is everyone’s goal here. We want the education of Nashville’s children to be better, some just want to get there a different way. The goal is still the same. But when people start attacking others based on where they live or where they went to school, you are undermining your whole argument. You want to give all students a chance to learn and succeed, but you won’t give all parents a right to express their ideas.

Let’s continue to talk about issues that are facing our education system. Let’s continue to meet and talk with people whose idea’s are different. Let’s continue to exchange ideas between us. Let’s continue to improve our children’s education. But let’s not continue the harsh tones and attacks that we all are doing. The only way to fix our education system is working together.

While I have written a post that may seem “anti charter,” (hint: it’s not) it doesn’t not mean I won’t work with charter schools to see what they are doing better than zoned schools. We can all question what zoned schools are doing or what charter schools are doing. The only thing we can do to help our education system is to be involved.

Here are a few organizations you can check out to get involved in your local education system.

State Collaborative on Reforming Education

TEA Teachers – Tennessee Education Association

Professional Educators of Tennessee

Tennessee Charter Schools Association


 

The Hidden Cost of Campfield’s Welfare Bill

The much debated welfare bill may have some hidden costs for the LEAs. Jared Barrett, a member of the Murfreesboro School Board, has this to say about the proposed bill (which Haslam has threatened to veto):

 I am writing you as a concerned school board member to urge you to vote no on SB0132. There are a few unintended consequences to this bill that will end up adding more costs to already strapped local school boards. One part of this bill would allow a student to attend summer school in the subject area in which the student has failed or has scored below proficient in order to demonstrate competency. Many questions and costs arise from this part of the bill as presented. The first costs shouldered by local school boards would be that the  district would be required to offer multiple content areas over multiple weeks and possibly over multiple locations during the summer.  Again, this would add to the overall cost of operating the district. And how would the kids get there? This would be a major concern for Murfreesboro City Schools, having to provide transportation to these students.

Another hidden cost to this legislation is regarding parent sessions?  When?  Where?  Who would conduct? Cost?  Transportation? Not only does this add additional costs to already strapped local school districts (like Murfreesboro), but it also takes away time from educators who are already trying to implement Common Core standards and keep up with other Federal and state mandates.

So while I understand these types of issues are not included in the fiscal note, the fact that this implies little cost is a false reality. I’m all for parental involvement and local school districts across the state struggle on how to implement that, but this bill is the wrong approach.

 


 

 

Rep. Pitts fires back at out of state speaker

Today, the California based Parent Revolution sent Ryan Donohue to Nashville, TN to speak in favor of a parent trigger bill. For an out of state interest, Mr. Donohue makes some broad statements about our public schools here in Tennessee. Please watch what Representative Joe Pitts had to say about that.

 

 

Legislative Week Ahead 2/11-2/14

Here is a look at the schedule for the week ahead. Bills are starting to trickle into committees. Remember that the bill filing deadline in Feb. 14.

Tuesday – 02/12/13 – 12:00pm – LP 16 – House Education Committee

There are no bills on notice in House Education. There will be presentations from the following people:

Tennessee Charter Schools Association, Matt Throckmorton, Executive Director

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Robert C. Enlow, President

CEO Putnam County Schools Virtual Learning Center, Jerry Boyd, Director of Schools, Sam Brooks, Virtual Learning Coordinator, Dr. Sharon Anderson, 7-12 Curriculum Supervisor

Tuesday – 02/12/13 – 3:00pm – LP 30 – House Education Subcommittee.

The subcommittee will take up nine bills.

1.HB702 M. White
Extends from 10 days to 20 days the time for appeal from a decision denying an application from the LEA to the state board of education..

2.HB839 T. Weaver
Age requirements for pre-K and Kindergarten. Changes the date that an at-risk child must be four years old by to enroll in prekindergarten programs. Allows children who have participated in private school prekindergarten programs and Head Start prekindergarten programs, in addition to LEA prekindergarten programs, to enter kindergarten in the 2013-2014 or 2014-2015 school years.

3.HB369 G. Johnson
Gives teachers who teach in multiple subject areas until July 1, 2014, to pass the content area tests in the subject areas in which they are teaching.

4.HB249 D. White
Allows special education teachers and alternative school teachers who teach in more than one subject area in which there is an end of course examination until July 1, 2014, to pass the content area tests in the subject areas in which they are teaching

5.HB151 G. McCormick (Administration bill)
Enrollment caps for virtual schools. Prohibits initial enrollment in a public virtual school from exceeding 1,500 students. Requires that students residing outside the LEA establishing the virtual school represent no more than twenty-five percent of the virtual school’s enrollment. Establishes that a public virtual school may exceed the total enrollment and out-of-district enrollment caps if the school demonstrates student achievement growth at a minimum level of “at expectations” as represented by the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System. Prohibits the total enrollment from ever exceeding 5,000 students. Grants the commissioner the authority to reinstitute enrollment caps or direct the LEA to close the school when a public virtual school identified as a priority school demonstrates student growth at a level of “significantly below expectations.”

6.HB366 D. Hawk
Requires each center of regional excellence (CORE) and the LEAs it serves to establish a regional virtual school.

7.HB385 H. Love Jr.
Requires public virtual schools to meet the same class size requirements as regular public schools.

8.HB421 J. Pitts
Permits the commissioner of education to place any virtual school that fails to meet the performance standards set by the state board of education in the achievement school district.

9.HB728 M. Stewart
Terminates the Virtual Public Schools Act on June 30, 2013 rather than June 30, 2015 as is in current law.

Wednesday – 02/13/13 – 3:00pm – LP 12 – Senate Education Committee

Presentation:

CHAIR OF EXCELLENCE IN DYSLEXIC STUDIES
MR. JIM HERMAN AND MS. KATHERINE DAVIS MURFREE OF MTSU

The committee will take up eight bills:

1. SB8 by Summerville
Enacts the “Higher Education Equality Act” to prevent institutions of higher education from granting preferences based on race, gender or ethnicity to students, employees or contractors. –

2. SB19 by Tracy
Establishes an additional award, the STEM stipend, from net lottery proceeds for Tennessee HOPE scholarship recipients who are majoring in STEM fields; sets STEM stipend at $1,000 for the 2013-2014 academic year subject to appropriation and sufficient net lottery proceeds.

3. SB208 by Gresham
Enacts the “Military Education Assistance for Tennessee Act,” which provides eligibility for in state tuition to certain honorably dischargedveterans; creates tuition waiver program for members of the Tennessee state guard with at least one year of service and tuition discount program for the spouses of such members.

4. SB233 by Kelsey
As introduced, allows an LEA, in its discretion, to determine whether to continue employment of a nontenured teacher who taught in a school prior to the school’s transfer to the ASD.

5. SB531 by Dickerson
Includes the full ACT report of each LEA to the annual report published by the commissioner of education; requires the report to be published on the department of education web site.

6. SB532 by Dickerson
As introduced, changes the release date of the state report card from November 1 to October 1; revises the provisions governing the performances goals and assessments by requiring the department of education to provide raw test score data and teacher effect data to LEAs no later than May 1.

7. SB538 by Bell
Changes the definition of “homeschool student” for purposes of the Tennessee HOPE scholarship to require that a student be home schooled the last year of high school instead of the last two years of high school.

8. SB547 by Bell
Prohibits displaying messages supporting or opposing referenda and initiatives on LEA or school signs or LEA-owned buildings; prohibits video or audio messages supporting or opposing referenda and initiatives being sent via LEA or school telephonic or electronic systems or accounts.

 

Legislative Week Ahead for Education Committees

Here is a look at the legislative week ahead for the Education Committees.

Tuesday – 12:30pm – LP 16 – House Education Committee

The House Education Committee will hear from Brent Easley of StudentsFirst. Brent Easley is a former Senior Research and Policy Analyst for the House Republican Caucus who recently took the post of State Director for StudentsFirst.

The committee will take up House Joint Resolution 10 (Deberry), which designates January 27-February 2, 2013, as “School Choice Week” in Tennessee.

Wednesday – 2:00pm – LP 12 – Senate Education Committee

The committee will take up three items.

1. SJR17– Gresham- Recognizes importance of neurological or brain science in the training of teacher candidates and encourages such training in teacher prep programs in state universities.

2. SB18 -Gresham – As introduced, prohibits an LEA or school from adopting an attendance policy that exempts students who have been absent less than a specified number of days from taking examinations or tests required of other students.

3. SB59 -Gresham- As introduced, authorizes and encourages teacher training programs at public institutions of higher education to offer coursework on neurological or brain science research.

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K12 Inc. Making the Rounds

Though this year’s legislative session isn’t yet running at full steam, there are a few trends already emerging.  As Andy mentioned, vouchers, charters, and the new parent trigger legislation will certainly be featured.  However, there is almost certainly going to be action on virtual schools as well.

If you haven’t heard before, the Tennessee Virtual Academy, run by the for-profit company K12 Inc., got into some hot water last year for its dreadful performance (even the New York Times dipped its toe in).  Tennessee, by the way, isn’t the only place that K12 has been having issues.  These troubles may explain why K12’s stock price has been plummeting over the last few years.

With that in mind, K12 has sent some emissaries to the legislature this year.  In the first official kick-off meeting for the Senate Education Committee, K12 made a presentation and faced (a few) tough questions regarding its performance (click below to see Sen. Campfield get sassy).  If you missed it the first time ’round, never fear: There’ll be a matinee performance tomorrow for the House Education Committee.  Be sure to tune in.

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