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Accountability Should be Calibrated to the Students a School Serves

posted on December 16, 2017 by Tony Monfiletto

Charter School AccountabilityRoughly 40 percent of the charter schools in New Mexico are designed to serve students who are not successful in traditional school.  The overwhelming majority of these schools receive Fs on their school report cards.   This year we have joined with the New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools to address this problem –either through regulation or new legislation that will be proposed in January 2017. We have been meeting regularly with the Public Education Department to solve this problem and we are hopeful that we can come to a consensus to go forward.

It is a tricky problem that has real impact for the Leadership High Schools. We cannot afford for them to be labeled as failures when they do so much good for so many young people and our community.  Our job over the next few months will be to educate the community about this problem as we did in the recent letter to the editor of the Albuquerque Journal:

THE CHALLENGE OF CHARTER SCHOOLS: Accountability should be calibrated to the students a school serves

By: Tony Monfiletto

On Jan. 29, the Albuquerque Journal published an editorial titled: “LFC didn’t do homework on charter school report.”

It was critical of the Legislative Finance Committee’s study of charter schools because it “leaves out a lot of data.” The Journal editorial board suggested that it’s inappropriate to evaluate all schools in the same way.

Specifically, the state should not generalize about charters because some schools “cater to students who plan to go into the construction trades, who do not thrive in a traditional classroom, who are at risk of dropping out.”

Yet, in the editorial published on July 24, the editorial board did just that when it criticized ACE and Health Leadership High School for receiving an F on their recent school report cards.

The call for accountability made no accommodations for the fact that these schools are focused on working with young people who have dropped out or are off-track to graduation. Our state needs an accountability system that recognizes their missions.

ACE and Health Leadership effectively serve the students that other schools cannot, yet they receive an F for doing so.

For example, in the 2014-15 school year, ACE Leadership High School graduated about 20 percent of the total students enrolled at the school (71 of 350). The school is terrifically productive when you consider that a “high-performing” comprehensive high school also graduates about 20 percent of its students (400 out of 2,000).

Health Leadership will have similar success this year with its first graduating class.

ACE and Health Leadership effectively serve the students that other schools cannot, yet they receive an F for doing so.

We need accountability for charter schools; however, that accountability should be calibrated to the school’s missions and the students they serve.

Nearly all of the students who go to ACE and Health Leadership are former dropouts or transfers from other schools. They arrive behind in credits and they don’t perform well on standardized tests. Focusing primarily on whether they are proficient on the PARCC exam or graduate in four years is an inappropriate measure of their success.

The critique provided by the Journal in January 2016 still holds. We need accountability for charter schools; however, that accountability should be calibrated to the school’s missions and the students they serve.

>>Click here to see the story at The Albuquerque Journal

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