Trenton Charter School Boasts of Student Gains with Similar Cohorts

The Times of Trenton (sadly diminishing into a local version of the  Star-Ledger as the paper prepares to close its Trenton office and make do with a few telecommuting reporters) reports today on student outcomes at Foundation Academies, a charter school in Trenton.

Trenton City Public Schools, as almost all mayoral candidates pointed out (Walker Worthy, favored son of the Democratic machine, insisted at a forum that “our schools are working!”), has a graduation rate of 48%, among the worst in the state. 3.3% of students at Trenton Central High score 1550 or above on their SAT’s, a measure of college and career-readiness.

At Foundations Academy, all 17 high school seniors will graduate and go to college.  (This is their first graduating class, and its smallest.) Other outcomes from the Trenton Times story:
In last year’s NJASK standardized testing results for eighth grade, students at Foundation Intermediate scored well above the average for Trenton and other urban schools in literacy, science and math.
The numbers were striking. For math, students at Foundation scored 66 percent proficient, compared with 23 percent for Trenton students in general. And the statewide average for that subject, 69 percent proficient, was only a few points higher than what Foundation has achieved.
Though the school is not able to cherry-pick the best students from among the public school population, the charter manages to coax good results out of most grade levels, said Weiss, whose intermediate school handles students from 3rd through 5th grades.
Charter critics often point out that some charters enroll smaller numbers of students with disabilities and wealthier students. There’s a little of this there, but not so much: while Trenton’s Dunn Middle School, for example, classifies 19% of its students as eligible for special education services, Foundation’s percentage is 12%. 92% of Dunn’s students are economically-disadvantaged and 83% of students at the charter meet that measure.  (Here's the DOE data.)

Foundations started with 100 pupils in 2007. Enrollment is currently 531 in a high school and intermediate school. Expansion in September will add 268 elementary-aged children.

In other Trenton schools news, Superintendent Francisco Duran was turned down for the top slot at Anne Arundel County Schools in Maryland. Also, the interim mayor, George Muschal, reappointed three current school board members through next year when the new mayor, whomever that is, will get to make his or her own selections.

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