The majority of charter school students in suburban Boston performed better than their district school counterparts on MCAS, The Boston Globe reports. The Globe compared 7th, 8th and 10th grade MCAS proficiency rates from 20 charter schools across Greater Boston. Almost all charter schools did better overall than the community in which they are based.
The state’s first charter network schools posted strong academic gains in just their first year of operation, according to state MCAS data.
Edward Brooke, Roxbury Prep and Excel Academy opened their first “replication schools” in 2011 and had 5th graders who took MCAS exams last year. All 5th graders were new to these schools, coming mostly from district schools.
Their “growth numbers” indicate a remarkable turnaround in the academic performance of their students. Growth numbers show how much progress the children made compared to their previous MCAS scores.
Edward Brooke 2 (Mattapan) 5th graders posted a “Student Growth Percentile” (SGP) of 92% in English and 95% in math. This means that its fifth graders raised their scores higher than 92 percent of the 5th graders statewide in English and 95% of the fifth graders statewide in math.
Roxbury Prep’s Grove Hall school’s English SGP was 71% and its math SGP was 86%. Excel Academy Chelsea posted an English SGP of 66% and a math SGP of 39%.
The other network school that opened last year – MATCH/Community Day - did not have a class that took the MCAS.
The faith the Legislature put in these schools to replicate their successes in underperforming districts is paying off for children.
Charter public schools began their vital work in Lawrence this fall helping the state transform the failing district school system, which was placed in receivership earlier this year. Four charter schools were asked to play pivotal roles.
Community Day Charter School, which has run a highly successful charter school in Lawrence, began working with students at the Arlington Elementary School.
Unlocking Potential, which "restarted" an underperforming district school in Boston as an "in-district" charter, started its work to turnaround the Leonard Middle School.
Boston's MATCH Charter School is providing 50 full-time tutors at Lawrence High School to ease the workload on teachers, and meet the school's goal of providing round-the-clock academic help. The program is modeled after MATCH's existing program in Boston.
Phoenix Charter Academy started a new alternative high school, modeled after its Chelsea school, designed to meet the needs of students who have not been successful in traditional school environments. Currently, less than half of Lawrence’s students graduate from high school within four years, which is the lowest graduation rate in the state.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has advanced 12 charter applications to the final round, including two Boston area charter schools that want to expand their networks in other Gateway Cities.
But this new wave of applications may be the last in several urban markets as more and more cities are reaching arbitrary caps on charter growth across the state.
"The good news is there are so many high quality applications that- if approved - would greatly expand the availability of charter seats," said Marc Kenen, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association. “The bad news is that these new schools could be the last in low performing districts with long wait lists. We are hopeful that the clear need and high demand for charters will prompt the Patrick Administration and the Legislature to advocate for lifting caps on charter expansion."
The 12 proposals that have reached the finals would expand opportunities for nearly 5,000 chidren in Boston, Lawrence New Bedford, Fall River, Brockton, Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee, Lynn, Saugus, Peabody, Danvers, Salem, Woburn, Stoneham, Medford, Melrose, and Wakefield.
Among the finalists are proposals from highly successful Boston-area schools seeking to replicate in other urban districts.
Several schools are also seeking new charters to expand or create networks of high quality schools. There are also proposals from new charter school operators in Fall River and Springfield.
ABC 40 in Springfield covered the opening of Veritas Prepatory.
Seven new charter public schools opened this fall in Boston, Lawrence and Springfield that when fully enrolled will provide high quality educational opportunities for more than 3,200 children. But the number of available seats is dwindling in many of the neediest communities under state-imposed limits on the number of charters allowed.
In Boston, the schools are expansions of successful charter networks operated by Edward Brooke, Roxbury Prep and Excel Academy, as well as Boston’s first KIPP charter school. KIPP is a successful national charter network operating more than 100 schools in cities across the country, including Lynn.
In Lawrence, Community Day Charter opened two new schools, replicating its successful model and focusing on English language learners.
In Springfield, Veritas Preparatory opened its first school.
The schools and the grade they will serve when fully enrolled are:
Dorchester Preparatory (Roxbury Prep Network): 600 children in Grades 5-12
Edward Brooke East Boston: 475 children in Grades K-8
Excel Academy - Orient Heights: 448 children in Grades 5-12
Kipp Academy - Boston: 588 children in Grades K-8
Community Day Charter Public Riverside: 400 children in Grades K1-8
Community Day Charter Public South: 400 children in Grades K1-8
Veritas Preparatory: 324 children in Grades 5-8