Saturday, July 2, 2011

UPDATE: Bad News for Governor Scott: Charter schools are not making the grade in Florida

Governor Scott has an unexpected surprise. He chose the KIPP Impact Middle charter school as the location to sign Florida's education reform legislation. He likely chose the school because of the praise it received from Michelle Rhee and a visit by Arne Duncan. During Secretary Duncan's visit, the school was a beneficiary of $500,000 from the federal government as part of a $14 million dollar grant given to the KIPP Corporation. All this was before the FCAT scores were published. The school scored an "F." Oops for Governor Scott.

The principal of the school said that deeper assessments need to be put into place, a sign that they hadn't collected enough test-driven data. As long as data is the only method for examining such low test scores, it is fairly easy to predict what next year's scores will be and impossible to know what capabilities the students have acquired. Was the music program successful? The principal had this to say:
“We’re disappointed,” Principal Robert Hawke said. “We fell pretty far short of where we wanted to be.”

Pretty far short? There really isn't any farther short to go.

The narrative continues to highlight the overnight successes of charter schools eclipsing a more realistic view of accomplishments. In an accountability environment, cherry-picking is not honest. The fact is that charters are not perfect and not the silver bullet they are touted to be. Were it not for the continued reporting of overnight turnaround successes attributed to the KIPP model and the attention lavished on this particular school when it opened, Governor Scott would likely have chosen another place to sign the bill. Luckily, it shined a spotlight on a story that goes underreported.

Hat tip to Scathing Purple Musings and Education Matters for reporting on the story.

UPDATE - More charter school bad news emerged this week. After three years of being an "A" school, a Lee County charter school gets an "F" this year. The school is investigating for possible cheating. However, as pointed out in Scathing Purple Musings:
Cheating and demographics aside, Floridians are getting more evidence that charters are not the sort of panacea that school reformers what them to believe.

12 Noon, 2JUL UPDATE:
Fifteen of thirty-one schools receiving "F" scores, were charter schools. This data raises serious questions. See the complete list here.

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