Monday, October 24, 2016

Here's Why Charter Schools Aren't "Laboratories of Innovation"

John Holland Charter School in Paterson just announced its most recent PARCC scores for 6th graders in language arts:  68.4% received scores indicating either proficiency or advanced proficiency, compared to 52.3% throughout the rest of New Jersey. Reason to celebrate, right? After all, 93% of Holland Charter’s students are economically-disadvantaged. (Almost all are students of color.) Yet here was the reaction (h/t: Pete Cook), via the Paterson Press, of “veteran” school board member Jonathan Hodges:
[P]arents in charter schools sometimes “are more engaged” in their children’s education. “As such, those parents are going to work more with their kids and they’re going to do better,” Hodges said.
Why aren't district representatives applauding the effective instruction of Holland’s teachers and administrators, as well as the hard work of students? Why aren't Paterson's administrators hounding Holland teachers for suggestions for best practices to improve student achievement in the traditional sector?  After all, isn’t that what we hear all the time – that charters are supposed to be “laboratories of innovation” and that successful experiments then get transported into the rest of the sector?

But those successes don’t get transferred, which is why parents flock to charters. A + B = C.

 Holland’s principal and founder  Christina Scano appears willing to collaborate, explaining in a press release that she "attributed the high score to staff’s ability to provide individualized attention to students as well as parent involvement/
"Our educational model focuses on working with students individually and with their families to build a framework that gives students the confidence to exceed.
Perhaps this model is something to emulate, not disparage. Meanwhile, Paterson Public Schools has yet to release its PARCC scores, although districts have had the information for over a month.  But,  for context, last year  22% of 6th graders at School 5, an elementary school in Paterson,  reached proficiency or advanced proficiency in language arts.

There are three other charters in Paterson. The Paterson Press requested PARCC scores from them. Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology didn’t respond.  Community Charter School of Paterson and Paterson Arts and Sciences Charter School surpassed the traditional district’s student achievement levels in all subjects and grades.

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