Ohio’s charter schools ridiculed at national conference, even by national charter supporters

Children stands in line for a turn on a bounce house/obstacle course during the new Pearl Academy open house as a large banner encourages passers-by to sign up for classes Friday, June 21, 2013 in Lakewood. This is at the former Saints Cyril and Methodius school building. The open house was being hosted by White Hat Management, a company that operates lots of charter schools in Ohio.

Plain Dealer photography staff

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on March 02, 2015 at 12:23 PM, updated

DENVER, Colorado – Ohio, the charter school world is making fun of you.

Ohio’s $1 Billion charter school system was the butt of jokes at a conference for reporters on school choice in Denver late last week, as well as the target of sharp criticism of charter school failures across the state.

The shots came from expected critics like teachers unions, but also from pro-charter voices, as the state considers ways to improve how it handles charters.

Ohio has about 123,000  kids attending nearly 400 charter schools – public schools that receive state tax money, but which are privately run.

One after another, panelists at the conference organized by the national Education Writers Association targeted Ohio’s poor charter school performance statewide, Ohio’s for-profit charter operators and how many organizations we hand over charter oversight keys to as the sponsors, or authorizers, of schools.

“Be very glad that you have Nevada, so you are not the worst,” Stanford University researcher Margaret “Macke” Raymond said of Ohio. 

Places like Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., she told reporters from across the country, have high standards for charter school performance.

“Then you have folks at the low end, of which Ohio is a strong case,” said Raymond, who released a report on Ohio’s charter performance in December.

Stanford’s Center for Research of Educational Outcomes (CREDO), found that students learn less in Ohio’s charter schools than in traditional districts – the equivalent of 36 days of learning in math and 14 days in reading.

The National Education Association’s David Welker, a member of NEA’s charter policy team, said Ohio’s system has been taken over by “grifters” and “cheats” – the for-profit companies that run many Ohio schools.

He was suspect about Ohio’s attempts to rein them in, saying, “the horse has left the barn.”

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a major national organization supporting the charter school movement, didn’t disagree.

“There are some operators who are exploiting things,” said Todd Ziebarth, a vice president of the Alliance.

He specifically named K12 Inc. and White Hat Management as major offenders. K12 is the nation’s largest provider of online charter schools and runs Ohio Virtual Academy, while White Hat is an Akron-based operator of many low-scoring charter schools that has regularly been a large donor to Republicans in Ohio. 

As Ziebarth started naming White Hat and K12, panelist Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute jumped in to add The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) to the list. That online school is run by William Lager, another major donor to Ohio Republicans.

Just last month the Akron Beacon-Journal reported that former Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder formed a lobbying company that will have former House staffers lobby for ECOT.

“Mike could probably go down a list of Ohio operators,” Ziebarth said.

Petrilli nodded and added: “Ohio needs a top-to-bottom overhaul of its charter school sector.”

Fordham is both a charter supporter and critic. It sponsors, or authorizes, some charter in Ohio and promotes school choice efforts, while also wanting better quality. Fordham helped sponsor the CREDO study in Ohio, as well as another study suggesting ways to reform charter laws in Ohio.

Alex Medler of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers added his own criticisms of Ohio’s system, but far more subtle ones.

But Medler had already made his views on Ohio’s charter system clear a year ago, when he derided Ohio’s charter school free-for-all as “the Wild, Wild West” of charters.

Both Gov. John Kasich and Republicans in the Ohio House have made separate proposals to change the oversight and management of charter schools. A third proposal is coming soon from the Ohio Senate and State Auditor Dave Yost is expected to propose some additional changes this week.

Some of the suggested that Fordham seeks have been incorporated into House Bill 2 or Kasich’s charter reform plan.

While both proposals so far are receiving praise for taking on some important issues, some want them to go further.

For another account of the criticism at the conference in Denver, see this report from the Akron Beacon-Journal.

To follow education news from Cleveland and affecting all of Ohio, follow this reporter on Facebook as @PatrickODonnellReporter

Take this article with a grain of salt.  It’s from K12 themselves.  Better put on your hip waders…

The three- volume Online Charter School Study (October 2015) prepared by Mathematica, the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) provides the country’s most in-depth and systemic look into full-time public virtual charter schools. The report is a starting point with respect to the need for more and better analysis of student performance in virtual charter schools. For instance, the study demonstrates a high mobility rate and the unique nature of students within this sector of public schools, however the student matching process did not take into account the length of enrollment, reason for enrollment, effect of mobility, or persistence over time. With additional relevant data, the study can inform the next round of research.

The study also makes conclusions that affirm what leaders in virtual schools have known for more than a decade. It confirms that virtual charter school students are eligible for free/reduced price lunch at a higher rate than traditional students (48 percent compared to 39 percent). The study also demonstrates that students in virtual charters had lower than average test scores prior to enrolling in the virtual school. In fact, one-third fewer virtual charter students are in the top-scoring decile than traditional students and there are 40 percent more virtual charter students in the bottom decile.

Decades of research show the effects of income on student performance, and there is an emerging body of research showing prior state assessment performance is a strong predictor of future performance. While these conclusions are sobering for those of us who got into education to positively impact student performance, they demonstrate that students are disproportionately academically at-risk prior to enrolling in virtual charter schools.  In fact, academic struggles are one of the main reasons why parents choose to transfer their children to these schools.

The policy volume of the study, written by CRPE, offers several recommendations that are somewhat disconnected from the other volumes of the report. For instance, the CREDO volume on student performance concludes that “network” virtual charter schools managed mostly by private “for-profit” providers do not perform worse, on average, than non-network schools, yet the recommendation is to further regulate these providers, absent evidence related to student outcomes.

Perhaps the biggest disconnect between the volumes of the study is on student engagement. The Mathematica volume discusses in great detail the importance and challenges of student engagement in the virtual charter school model. This is not news to teachers or leaders within these schools who have been developing instructional strategies, technological tools, and support structures to improve student engagement. We had hoped the volume would include constructive policy recommendations in this area. Instead, it proposes a more crude approach:  screening enrollments to ensure students are the right “fit” before allowing them access to public virtual charter schools.

A fundamental principle for public schools — especially for public schools of choice — is equal access and opportunity for all students. Virtual charter schools are public schools. They offer families access to a full public education option regardless of their geographic location. They bring the school to the student wherever she lives, meaning that for millions of families across the country, virtual schools represent the only public school option available. Take that away – or restrict equal access through some type of selection process – and virtual schools no longer become public schools. Further, it is hard to fathom what type of admissions criteria could both safeguard equal access and parent choice, while also “filtering out” students who are somehow pre-determined not to succeed. This would inevitably lead to the most difficult-to-educate students never having the chance to try virtual schools, even though they may have the potential to succeed. And they can succeed.  We’ve seen thousands of students deemed “at-risk” thrive and graduate from virtual charter schools.

The focus must be on student engagement. Rather than denying equal access and opportunity to students on the front end, policies should be designed to enable online and blended schools to move students out who are unable or unwilling to engage in their individualized learning program.  Currently, public virtual schools are forced to use traditional, often arcane, attendance and truancy regulations to remove students, which rely on traditional “seat time” attendance measures instead of engagement. 

While CRPE calls attention to a provision in the Arizona law that relates to student performance while enrolled in the virtual school, there is no recommendation to leverage this type of policy to include engagement. States should consider expanding the Arizona policy to include student engagement. A follow-up study examining the impact of engagement on performance for all types of students in virtual schools would be informative. While virtual charter schools are not the right fit for all, experience has shown us that any student, regardless of her circumstances, who engages in the online learning model can succeed.

Another disconnect is the recommendation to move public virtual schools out of the charter school sector entirely. Advocates have touted the increased transparency within charter schools since 1995.  These public schools are required to comply with all state reporting requirements while serving students entirely based on choice. Charter schools do not serve students zoned in by zip code. Charters must be open to all students, and parents have the freedom to make choices based on school-level information. There is no greater form of transparency in public education than within the charter sector.

On the other hand, there is a lack of transparency and information available on the performance of state-run and district-run virtual schools. In fact, several reports, including Keeping Pace with K-12 Digital Learning, have pointed out that it is difficult to get visibility into the true number of students enrolled in these school programs or their academic performance due to lax reporting requirements. Would anyone expect greater transparency for full-time public virtual schools by placing them within these structures?

A final point from the policy section at odds with the historical record is the description that education service providers have supported poor regulations, while simultaneously pointing out strong laws that were the recommendations made by these same providers.  The states CRPE cites as having good laws — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Oklahoma — have benefitted from the input provided by education service providers such as K12 Inc. In fact, traditional critics of charters and school choice have criticized the role that educators and practitioners from digital education service providers played in advocating for these policies.  Across many states, K12 has worked with policymakers to inform the process to ensure responsible, effective, and transparent policies are enacted. In every state cited by CRPE as a model, K12 has supported the specific policy provisions that are deemed worthy of replication. 

K12 continues to advocate for improved policies in digital learning. For example, K12 has proposed better and more reliable student-centered accountability frameworks for schools that experience higher rates of mobility through school choice.  Here are a few:

Reform Graduation Rates – Rather than 4-year cohort, create a value added approach to graduation rate by measuring student progress toward graduation requirements for the actual time the student is enrolled in a public school.

Full Academic year – The longer a student is enrolled in a school, the more the school should be held accountable for his or her performance. State accountability frameworks should therefore be weighted to measure student proficiency and growth based on number of full academic years students are enrolled in a school.

–      Less than 1 full year = 0

–      Two full years  = 1.0

–      Three full years = 2.0

–      Four or more full years = 3.0

Student Growth – Annual individual student academic growth measurements should carry more weight within a state’s accountability framework than static proficiency scores. Growth models should also be sufficiently sensitive to growth on the high and low ends of the spectrum.

Measure Student Engagement – No student should be denied equal access and opportunity to public schools of choice.  However, states can develop a definition of engagement for students enrolled in alternative public schools of choice (including online and blended schools).  Students who do not demonstrate sufficient and ongoing engagement may be dis-enrolled.

On funding, K12 has long advocated for models that fund schools based on students enrolled on a real-time or current-year basis. Schools should not receive funding for students they are no longer educating.  Funding models based on single student count dates, predominately advocated by traditional school systems, are incompatible in states where school choice is valued and multiple education options exist.  Funding should follow the child to their school of choice at any point during the year.

It is our hope the Online Charter School Study is the first of many analyses of public virtual charter schools. This report points out the need for additional studies based on the unique nature of these schools’ students and the quickly evolving online learning instructional model. K12 will continue to be transparent, share data, and seek opportunities to collaborate on research and policy.  Our goal is to constantly improve, raise outcomes, and help every student succeed.

Mary Gifford is Senior Vice President of Education Policy and External Affairs at K12 Inc.  Jeff Kwitowski is Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Communications. 

California Virtual Academies defend online charter schools as model of school choice

By Jessica Calefati, jcalefati@bayareanewsgroup.com

Posted:
 
04/19/2016 05:26:24 AM PDT

In a vigorous defense, officials behind the California Virtual Academies branded this news organization’s investigation into their online charter schools “wrong and insulting” and an attack against a model of school choice.

But critics of K12 Inc., the Wall Street-traded company that runs the profitable but low-performing academies, called for greater oversight of its practices.

The newspaper’s two-day series examined how K12 Inc., reaps tens of millions of dollars in state funding while graduating fewer than half of the students enrolled in its high schools.

Elizabeth Novak-Galloway, 12, who used to be an A student, received C s because she was missing work she never knew had been assigned, her mother said. (Dai Sugano, Bay Area News Group)
(
Dai Sugano
)

In a letter sent to teachers Monday afternoon, the schools’ academic administrator, April Warren, called the newspaper’s investigative series “a gross mischaracterization of all of the work that you all do on a regular basis.” But despite their broad condemnations, neither Warren nor other school officials alleged any specific factual inaccuracies in the series.

The investigation, published Sunday and Monday, also reported that teachers have been asked to inflate attendance and enrollment records used to determine taxpayer funding.

K12 says the schools operate independently and are locally controlled. But the newspaper’s review of the academies’ contracts, tax records and other financial information suggest the Virginia-based company calls the shots, operating the schools to make money by taking advantage of laws governing charters and nonprofit organizations. K12’s heavily marketed model in California has helped the company collect more than $310 million in state funding over the past 12 years.

State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said the performance of any publicly financed school should be a matter of concern for taxpayers — and lawmakers.

“Charter schools were created to give parents and students an alternative to how public schools were delivering instruction,” Beall said Monday. “But it has never been the state’s intent to permit online for-profit charter schools to fail students or gouge taxpayers. Students must not be viewed as cash cows.”

However, the company, a top administrator for the online school network and the board of directors for one of the academies serving Bay Area students all released similarly worded statements Monday, blasting the newspaper’s investigation.

Together, members of the California Virtual Academy at San Mateo’s board of directors called allegations that they have “any other interest except for our children” and their families both “wrong and insulting.”

The statement said the network of online schools has for years endured similar attacks on its track record from charter opponents and the California Teachers Association, which is attempting to unionize employees at the schools.

“Parents want choice in education,” the statement said. “Students deserve options because one size does not fit all. We love our school.”

The board insisted in its statement that each of the K12-partner schools are “governed independently by their nonprofit school boards made up of California residents including parents, educators, and local community leaders.”

The newspaper’s investigation revealed that two of the four board members at the San Mateo County school — board president Don Burbulys and member Stephen Warren — are related to top academy administrators who are hand-picked by K12.

Burbulys, who is married to Dean of Students Laura Terrazas, lives in Soquel in Santa Cruz County, and Warren, who is the brother-in-law of April Warren, lives in Riverside County.

Defending her brother-in-law’s oversight of her work, April Warren wrote in her letter to teachers that “relatives are permitted to serve on a California nonprofit board” and that “several school districts have people who sit on their boards that are either parents, employees or are related to employees of the district that they serve.”

The California Charter Schools Association and California Teachers Association on Monday said the Legislature should take a hard look at whether for-profit companies like K12 should be operating schools in California and whether the state can do more to ensure charter schools are overseen properly.

“When taxpayer money is used to fund education, those dollars should go to help kids,” said California Teachers Association President Eric Heins. “In this case, we have no idea how the company is spending our tax dollars and it’s not right. This is pretty basic stuff.”

Online charter schools only work with a fraction of the kids enrolled in California’s roughly 1,200 charters, but that doesn’t mean they should be held to a lower standard of accountability, said Emily Bertelli, a spokeswoman for the California Charter Schools Association, which publicly called for the closure of a K12-run school in 2011 only to see the school reopened with a new name under the same authorizer.

Former Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said in an interview Monday that none of the newspaper’s findings surprised him. He said he’d seen many of the same issues unfold in his state, where he tried, and failed to shut down K12’s Tennessee Virtual Academy because of poor performance.

“This company’s efforts to grow bear no relationship whatsoever to the quality of their results in California and across the country,” Huffman said.

“You would hope that an online virtual school — especially one run by a for-profit company — would only have the opportunity to grow with really high-quality results,” Huffman said. “K12 isn’t coming close to meeting a high bar in terms of quality.”

One Redwood City parent who contacted this newspaper, saying the investigative series “hit close to home,” said his son, who is now a sophomore in college, took K12’s advanced courses, earned A’s and B’s and finished at the top of his class when he was a student at one of the company-run California schools. But when his son applied to a local community college, he was stunned to learn he had to take remedial math and English courses because he was so far behind.

Other parents, however, contacted the newspaper to defend the schools, saying the online learning model was vital to their sons’ and daughters’ academic success.

Maureen Behlen said her son thrived in K12’s school because she “put everything into it,” spending several hours a day teaching him and guiding him through his coursework. She said an online school isn’t the right fit for families who can’t devote as much time to the program as she did.

“Would you send a bunch of kids into a classroom with no teachers? Of course not,” said Behlen, who lives in the foothills in East San Jose. “There has to be an adult responsible for overseeing what they’re learning, and if there isn’t, you’re setting them up to fail.”

Contact Jessica Calefati at 916-441-2101. Follow her at Twitter.com/Calefati.

California Virtual Academies defend online charter schools as model of school choice

By Jessica Calefati, jcalefati@bayareanewsgroup.com

Posted:
 
04/19/2016 05:26:24 AM PDT

In a vigorous defense, officials behind the California Virtual Academies branded this news organization’s investigation into their online charter schools “wrong and insulting” and an attack against a model of school choice.

But critics of K12 Inc., the Wall Street-traded company that runs the profitable but low-performing academies, called for greater oversight of its practices.

The newspaper’s two-day series examined how K12 Inc., reaps tens of millions of dollars in state funding while graduating fewer than half of the students enrolled in its high schools.

Elizabeth Novak-Galloway, 12, who used to be an A student, received C s because she was missing work she never knew had been assigned, her mother said.
Elizabeth Novak-Galloway, 12, who used to be an A student, received C s because she was missing work she never knew had been assigned, her mother said. (Dai Sugano, Bay Area News Group)
(
Dai Sugano
)

In a letter sent to teachers Monday afternoon, the schools’ academic administrator, April Warren, called the newspaper’s investigative series “a gross mischaracterization of all of the work that you all do on a regular basis.” But despite their broad condemnations, neither Warren nor other school officials alleged any specific factual inaccuracies in the series.

The investigation, published Sunday and Monday, also reported that teachers have been asked to inflate attendance and enrollment records used to determine taxpayer funding.

K12 says the schools operate independently and are locally controlled. But the newspaper’s review of the academies’ contracts, tax records and other financial information suggest the Virginia-based company calls the shots, operating the schools to make money by taking advantage of laws governing charters and nonprofit organizations. K12’s heavily marketed model in California has helped the company collect more than $310 million in state funding over the past 12 years.

State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said the performance of any publicly financed school should be a matter of concern for taxpayers — and lawmakers.

“Charter schools were created to give parents and students an alternative to how public schools were delivering instruction,” Beall said Monday. “But it has never been the state’s intent to permit online for-profit charter schools to fail students or gouge taxpayers. Students must not be viewed as cash cows.”

However, the company, a top administrator for the online school network and the board of directors for one of the academies serving Bay Area students all released similarly worded statements Monday, blasting the newspaper’s investigation.

Together, members of the California Virtual Academy at San Mateo’s board of directors called allegations that they have “any other interest except for our children” and their families both “wrong and insulting.”

The statement said the network of online schools has for years endured similar attacks on its track record from charter opponents and the California Teachers Association, which is attempting to unionize employees at the schools.

“Parents want choice in education,” the statement said. “Students deserve options because one size does not fit all. We love our school.”

The board insisted in its statement that each of the K12-partner schools are “governed independently by their nonprofit school boards made up of California residents including parents, educators, and local community leaders.”

The newspaper’s investigation revealed that two of the four board members at the San Mateo County school — board president Don Burbulys and member Stephen Warren — are related to top academy administrators who are hand-picked by K12.

Burbulys, who is married to Dean of Students Laura Terrazas, lives in Soquel in Santa Cruz County, and Warren, who is the brother-in-law of April Warren, lives in Riverside County.

Defending her brother-in-law’s oversight of her work, April Warren wrote in her letter to teachers that “relatives are permitted to serve on a California nonprofit board” and that “several school districts have people who sit on their boards that are either parents, employees or are related to employees of the district that they serve.”

The California Charter Schools Association and California Teachers Association on Monday said the Legislature should take a hard look at whether for-profit companies like K12 should be operating schools in California and whether the state can do more to ensure charter schools are overseen properly.

“When taxpayer money is used to fund education, those dollars should go to help kids,” said California Teachers Association President Eric Heins. “In this case, we have no idea how the company is spending our tax dollars and it’s not right. This is pretty basic stuff.”

Online charter schools only work with a fraction of the kids enrolled in California’s roughly 1,200 charters, but that doesn’t mean they should be held to a lower standard of accountability, said Emily Bertelli, a spokeswoman for the California Charter Schools Association, which publicly called for the closure of a K12-run school in 2011 only to see the school reopened with a new name under the same authorizer.

Former Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said in an interview Monday that none of the newspaper’s findings surprised him. He said he’d seen many of the same issues unfold in his state, where he tried, and failed to shut down K12’s Tennessee Virtual Academy because of poor performance.

“This company’s efforts to grow bear no relationship whatsoever to the quality of their results in California and across the country,” Huffman said.

“You would hope that an online virtual school — especially one run by a for-profit company — would only have the opportunity to grow with really high-quality results,” Huffman said. “K12 isn’t coming close to meeting a high bar in terms of quality.”

One Redwood City parent who contacted this newspaper, saying the investigative series “hit close to home,” said his son, who is now a sophomore in college, took K12’s advanced courses, earned A’s and B’s and finished at the top of his class when he was a student at one of the company-run California schools. But when his son applied to a local community college, he was stunned to learn he had to take remedial math and English courses because he was so far behind.

Other parents, however, contacted the newspaper to defend the schools, saying the online learning model was vital to their sons’ and daughters’ academic success.

Maureen Behlen said her son thrived in K12’s school because she “put everything into it,” spending several hours a day teaching him and guiding him through his coursework. She said an online school isn’t the right fit for families who can’t devote as much time to the program as she did.

“Would you send a bunch of kids into a classroom with no teachers? Of course not,” said Behlen, who lives in the foothills in East San Jose. “There has to be an adult responsible for overseeing what they’re learning, and if there isn’t, you’re setting them up to fail.”

Contact Jessica Calefati at 916-441-2101. Follow her at Twitter.com/Calefati.

CCSA Calls for the Non-Renewal of 10 Charter Schools as a Result of Academic Underperformance

December 15, 2011

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

Contact: Vicky Waters, CCSA
(415) 505-7575
vwaters@calcharters.org

SACRAMENTO, California (Dec. 15, 2011).–The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is calling today for the non-renewal of 10 charter schools from across California that are below CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal. This public call for non-renewal represents a significant step towards advancing accountability and fulfilling our collective promise of quality education for children across the state.

“The Charter Schools Act, approved in California in 1992, opened the door to education reform and school choice, allowing charter schools to operate with autonomy and flexibility in exchange for higher accountability. California’s charter schools are serious about ensuring that the movement improves pupil learning and creates significantly better learning opportunities than are available within the traditional public school system for our students,” said Jed Wallace, president and CEO, CCSA. “To that end, CCSA is taking a lead role in ensuring appropriate academic accountability within the movement by establishing clear and transparent academic performance expectations for charter schools.”

“We cannot have an honest discussion about education reform and increasing accountability without closing the charters that have demonstrated an inability to meet the challenge of excellence–granted to us by law–and chronically underperform. Our accountability framework has been pressure tested, analyzed and deliberated thoroughly. The time to act on persistently low-performing schools is now, because our children’s education cannot be put on the back-burner,” said Myrna Castrejón, senior vice president, Achievement and Performance Management, CCSA.

In conjunction with CCSA’s Member Council (which consists of charter school leaders from across California), and in consultation with technical experts, CCSA developed an Accountability Framework that is a three-dimensional model that hones in on the value added by schools, as well as measures of academic status and growth. The Framework is the basis of CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal, a minimum performance standard that CCSA developed and uses as part of its advocacy efforts for charter schools seeking a renewal of their petition. Under California law, charter school petitions are authorized for up to a five-year term, and may be renewed by the authorizer for five more years. To inform schools, authorizers and the public on school performance, CCSA publishes Academic Accountability Report Cards every fall that show the results of each charter school on the Accountability Framework and CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal. CCSA encourages authorizers to use this data in making their decisions about whether to renew a school’s charter.

Upon the publication of the 2011 Academic Performance Index (API) results, CCSA identified thirty-one (31) charter schools from across California that are “Below CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal.” Of those 31, 11 schools’ charters expire before June 2012, and thus are in the process of petition renewal. CCSA provided all schools above and below criteria an opportunity to provide demographic data corrections and for those schools below criteria, an opportunity to submit additional student level, longitudinal data. CCSA analyzed the data provided and determined that of the 11 schools in renewal, 10 schools still do not meet CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal. CCSA has informed these schools of this circumstance, and will take steps toward informing the authorizer and encouraging it to exercise their authority not to renew the charter, and close the school.

In order to meet CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal, charter schools must have operated for a minimum of four years and meet at least one of the following:

  • Academic Performance Index (API) score of at least 700 in most recent year
  • 3-year cumulative API growth of at least 50 points (2010-11 growth + 2009-10 growth + 2008-09 growth)
  • Within range of or exceeding predicted performance based on similar student populations statewide, for at least two out of the last three years, based on CCSA’s metric, the Similar Students Measure.

In all, the 10 charter schools that do not meet CCSA’s standard for renewal represent slightly more than 1% of the 982 charter schools currently in operation in California, and represent all school types and regions of the state.

The list of schools includes:

School Name City Authorizer
Antelope View Charter Antelope Center Joint Unified
California Aerospace Academy McClellan Twin Rivers Unified
California Virtual Academy @ Kern Simi Valley Maricopa Unified
Leadership High San Francisco San Francisco Unified
Los Angeles County Online High Palmdale Antelope Valley Union High
Nubia Leadership Academy San Diego San Diego Unified
Uncharted Shores Academy Crescent City Del Norte County Office of Education
West County Community High Richmond West Contra Costa Unified
West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter West Sacramento Washington Unified
Yuba County Career Preparatory Charter Marysville Yuba County Office of Education

“It is encouraging to see the level of support the Association has received in this call for non-renewal and closure, as we believe that closure of persistently low-performing schools is a natural part of a healthy charter school movement, and will allow us to continue reinventing public education in California, and offer the best quality education possible to students everywhere. Ultimately, the intent of the Charter Schools Act cannot be fulfilled if charter schools do not improve pupil learning and increase learning opportunities for all pupils,” added Wallace.

For more information regarding CCSA’s Accountability initiative, visit www.ccsa.org/advocacy/accountability, which includes links to the reports, and an FAQ on the Public Call for Non-Renewal.

About the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 982 charter public schools and more than 412,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. The Mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools reflective of California’s student population. For more information, please visit www.ccsa.org.

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Gene V. Glass, distinguished researcher of education at Arizona State University, surveys the amazing spread of school choice in Arizona and asks what are the results of the spread of choice. You have heard the stories about how vouchers and charters will “save poor kids from failing schools,” will create competition to improve public schools, will work wonders for everyone. It turns out that Arizona is the choice capital of the world but is still waiting for that miraculous success that its advocates promised and still promise.


 


Professor Glass shows how dramatically choice has spread across Arizona, with the urging of choice advocates in the government and the private sector.


 


Glass writes:


 


Now Arizona is the school choice capital of the world: 1) 500 charter schools – soon to be closer to 600 if New Schools for Phoenix has its way, and they will; 2) huge virtual academies run by out-of-state companies like K12 Inc.; 3) open enrollment laws; 4) tuition tax credits subsidizing families sending their kids to religious schools; and 5) a history of active homeschooling. In fact, the number of students whose parents have “chosen” is staggering. There are 1,100,000 students of K-12 school age in Arizona. Of that number, 180,000 attend charter schools, 200,000 have exercised their right to switch school districts under open enrollment laws, and about 80,000 attend private (mostly religious)schools or are homeschooled. That amounts to more than 400,000 “choice students” in Arizona out of a population of a little more than one million for a choice ratio of about 40% plus.


 


With nearly half of all students enjoying the benefit of choice – with its effects on driving incompetent teachers out of work, shutting down bad schools, stimulating private and public schools to reach higher levels of effort and innovation – the condition of K-12 education in Arizona must be nothing short of fantastic!


 


But, to hear the state’s politicians and business leaders speak of it, Arizona’s school systems are terrible. Below average; lagging behind other nations; a threat to the economy of the entire state; not preparing students for college or careers; in need of major reforms; bring on the Common Core. Arizona’s education system is the paragon of choice, and yet it is a mess. Somebody needs to get their stories straight.
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1HeBT8y

Larry Lee started his own blog, which is a good thing, because he understands Alabama politics and cares deeply about improving public education.


In this post, he follows the money that preceded the legislature’s approval of charter schools.


He writes:


Even an amateur swami with a cloudy crystal ball could have told us how the recent vote to approve charter schools in Alabama would play out. In fact, he didn’t even have to look at his ball, they could have looked at 2014 campaign financial disclosures instead.


There they would have found a trail of contributions of thousands and thousands of dollars from charter supporters to friendly legislators.


This bill passed the Senate 22-12 the first time it was voted on. One senator did not vote, eight Democrats voted against it, as did the one Independent and three Republicans. All yes votes were Republican.


Interesting that in the deep South, the Democrats know what “school choice” will lead to. Segregation.


Where did the money come from?


The “Big Three” donors supporting charters last year were Bob Riley’s Alabama 2014 PAC, the Business Council of Alabama’s Progress PAC (run by Billy Canary) and Speaker Mike Hubbard’s Storm PAC. (These three have also been strong supporters of the Alabama Accountability Act.)


Together, they spent $5.1 million dollars in 2014 in hopes of having friendly politicians in place. Obviously their plan worked well. This money came from an assortment of sources. While BCA depends on their Alabama members for support, the Riley and Hubbard PACs cast a wider net and got checks from across the country. Companies such a Pfizer, General Electric, Anheuser Busch, Cemex and International Paper donated. As did pay day lenders and charter supporters like StudentsFirst and K12….


Let’s take a closer look at how the pot was split in the Senate.


None of the eight Democrats or the lone Independent who voted against charters got a penny from Riley, Hubbard or BCA. The Republican who did not vote got $1,000 and the three Republicans who voted “nay” got a total of $77,000, mostly from BCA.


Of the 22 Republican “yea” votes, one who few thought would win, got nothing. Of the remaining 21, six had either no opposition or token opposition. They only received $8,000 total. The remaining 15 got $987,815 in all, an average of $65,854 each. However, some were more equal than others as five got more than $100,000 each.


In addition to contributions from the “Big Three,” StudentsFirst, a Sacramento, CA group with 10 lobbyists in Alabama, spent $61,958. And the Alabama Federation for Children, which was solely supported by checks from millionaires in California, Michigan and Arkansas spent $101,748. Evidently “Alabama values” include California millionaires.


In all, the 15 senators who had substantial challenges got $1,142,522 from the charter supporters just mentioned for an average of $76,168.


Follow the money. It’s rightwing money to privatize public education.
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1DS4Y1W

Tennessee Virtual Academy: Bad Results, No Accountability

In their rush to privatize public education in Tennessee, the Governor and the legislature enacted legislation in 2011 authorizing the Tennesee Virtual Academy, an online charter school run by K12 Inc.


K12 is a for-profit corporation started by Michael and Lloyd Milken. It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It earns millions for its owners but has received bad reviews in the New York Times and the Washington Post. The National Education Policy Center wrote a devastating critique of its academic results, as did CREDO in a report about Pennsylvania. In that state, virtual charter schools do worse than either public schools or brick-and-mortar charter schools.


Nonetheless, Tennessee wanted to be in the vanguard of the privatization movement. K12 partnered with Union County public schools, which collect 4% of K12’s proceeds. K12 pockets the other 96%, which is drawn from public schools across the state. The K12 virtual school is one of the lowest performing schools in the state, but Commissioner Kevin Huffman lacks the grit to shut it down. Despite its poor results, enrollment continues to grow. The company uses public dollars for recruiting, marketing, and advertising, and parents are persuaded by the sales pitch and the free computer to try homeschooling. Unfortunately, students often lack the motivation to stick with the program, and many drop out and return to their local public school, minus the state tuition grant.


Instead of shutting the school down, after three years of poor results, Commissioner Huffman announced that he would not permit the next entering class of 626 students to enroll. If the TVA were a public school, it would have its doors nailed shut. But Huffman decided to give TVA more time and to ignore its dismal results.


In a pattern that is typical for virtual charter schools, the students at the TVA have low test scores and high attrition. When the students return to their public schools, they have low proficiency. Meanwhile, their home district loses money, and K12’s bottom line grows.


Meanwhile a Washington-based organization that advocates for school choice blasted Huffman. The Center for Educational Reform said:


“The Center for Education Reform strongly condemns the recent directive by the Tennessee Education Commissioner to un-enroll 626 students from the Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA), denying them their school choice rights.


“It’s an outrage that these 626 legally enrolled students are now being forcefully turned away, just two weeks before the start of the school year,” said Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform. “This represents an unreasonable attempt by Commissioner Huffman to virtually block the schoolhouse door.”


To CER, school choice is far more important than school quality. No matter how low the test scores or the graduation rate, no matter how high the attrition rate, CER will fight for students’ right to choose low-quality schools. How this is supposed to improve U.S. education is a mystery.


Except for a small number of students with compelling reasons to stay home instead of going to school, virtual charter schools are a waste of public funds.

















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1kcQ97d

Tennessee Virtual Academy: Bad Results, No Accountability

In their rush to privatize public education in Tennessee, the Governor and the legislature enacted legislation in 2011 authorizing the Tennesee Virtual Academy, an online charter school run by K12 Inc.


K12 is a for-profit corporation started by Michael and Lloyd Milken. It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It earns millions for its owners but has received bad reviews in the New York Times and the Washington Post. The National Education Policy Center wrote a devastating critique of its academic results, as did CREDO in a report about Pennsylvania. In that state, virtual charter schools do worse than either public schools or brick-and-mortar charter schools.


Nonetheless, Tennessee wanted to be in the vanguard of the privatization movement. K12 partnered with Union County public schools, which collect 4% of K12’s proceeds. K12 pockets the other 96%, which is drawn from public schools across the state. The K12 virtual school is one of the lowest performing schools in the state, but Commissioner Kevin Huffman lacks the grit to shut it down. Despite its poor results, enrollment continues to grow. The company uses public dollars for recruiting, marketing, and advertising, and parents are persuaded by the sales pitch and the free computer to try homeschooling. Unfortunately, students often lack the motivation to stick with the program, and many drop out and return to their local public school, minus the state tuition grant.


Instead of shutting the school down, after three years of poor results, Commissioner Huffman announced that he would not permit the next entering class of 626 students to enroll. If the TVA were a public school, it would have its doors nailed shut. But Huffman decided to give TVA more time and to ignore its dismal results.


In a pattern that is typical for virtual charter schools, the students at the TVA have low test scores and high attrition. When the students return to their public schools, they have low proficiency. Meanwhile, their home district loses money, and K12’s bottom line grows.


Meanwhile a Washington-based organization that advocates for school choice blasted Huffman. The Center for Educational Reform said:


“The Center for Education Reform strongly condemns the recent directive by the Tennessee Education Commissioner to un-enroll 626 students from the Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA), denying them their school choice rights.


“It’s an outrage that these 626 legally enrolled students are now being forcefully turned away, just two weeks before the start of the school year,” said Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform. “This represents an unreasonable attempt by Commissioner Huffman to virtually block the schoolhouse door.”


To CER, school choice is far more important than school quality. No matter how low the test scores or the graduation rate, no matter how high the attrition rate, CER will fight for students’ right to choose low-quality schools. How this is supposed to improve U.S. education is a mystery.


Except for a small number of students with compelling reasons to stay home instead of going to school, virtual charter schools are a waste of public funds.

















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1kcQ97d

press release

May 29, 2014, 9:30 a.m. EDT

School Choice Window for Oklahoma Families Closes June 2

NICOMA PARK, Okla., May 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy, a free public online school serving students in grades K-12, reminds families that the state's school choice window closes Monday, June 2.

Oklahoma families have the right to transfer their students to a different district and school, but must complete the Parent's Application for an Open Transfer Beginning School Year 2014-15 before this date.

If parents do not make this deadline, they must submit an emergency transfer form and the ability to transfer their child is at the discretion of their current district.

“One of the most important decisions parents make is the choice for their child's education,” said Sheryl Tatum, head of school of Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy. “We want to ensure parents are aware of education options for their children. We are proud to offer a high-quality choice where certified teachers partner with parents to build a solid academic foundation and develop lifelong learners.”

Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy is a public charter school authorized by the State Virtual Charter Board and students from across the state can enroll. It provides a structured learning environment and is held accountable by the same state testing required of all Oklahoma public schools. Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy is accredited by the state of Oklahoma and uses the award-winning curriculum created by K12 Inc.

Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy is conducting enrollment events to give families interested in the school a chance to meet staff and other parents and see how the program works. For more information on upcoming events, please visit http://www.k12.com/ovca.

About Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy

Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy is a full-time, online public charter school in Oklahoma. It is tuition-free for Oklahoma residents. For more information, please visit http://www.k12.com/ovca or call 866-467-0848.

About K12

K12 Inc. LRN +0.88% is leading the transformation to technology-powered individualized learning, which aims to customize instruction to meet each student's unique capabilities, interests, and needs. As the nation's leading provider of online education solutions for students in pre-kindergarten through high school, K¹² empowers states, districts, and schools to offer students the broadest array of learning options in a flexible, individualized, and innovative way. K¹² provides online curricula, academic services, and learning solutions to public and private schools and districts, traditional classrooms, blended school programs, and directly to families.

SOURCE K12 Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

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