Comments about ‘Utah charter schools' grades no better than traditional schools’

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Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4 2013 6:35 p.m. MDT

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pk97
SLC, UT

Switching from a school with an "A" rating to one with an "F", I can honestly say I have learned much more and benefited incredibly more from the one awarded an F. The grading system fails to account for several situations and includes many useless grading points especially in the standardized testing. For example, the system doesn't include a category for top tier students in AP and IB programs and takes an approach of focusing on what is a useless and hardly a standardized test. Furthermore the system automatically awards an F rating if less than 95% of the school doesn't take CRT, completely not understanding the possibility of truancy.

Orem Parent
Orem, UT

This statement just isn't true -

"The purpose for charter schools was to provide different options within the public setting. We didn't necessarily say we were going to be better than the traditional elementary school or junior high or high school. We said we were going to meet the needs of students that didn't necessarily fit there," said Julie Adamic, principal of John Hancock Academy

When the charters were vying for funding they constantly told us they were going to do more with less funding. They were going to show the real schools how it should be done.

They haven't done it.

They are duplicating already existing services and costing us taxpayers a boatload of money.

The charter by me in Orem received a C grade while the local elementary received a B. Why even have a charter school that is performing worse than the real school? We are paying for another building, another secretary, another custodian, more utilities, etc. There is plenty of room at the regular school. In fact class space remains empty.

It is time to end the charter experiment.

It hasn't lived up to the hype.

wasatchfrontman
Murray, UT

While my daughter is out of college and in the real world, I have been following the news on the school grading system. What's interesting to me is the reaction of the people representing public schools and the people representing charter schools. The public school group is crying foul and complain about an unfair system. The charter school group are looking at how they can improve their grade. It's obvious that different schools fill different needs and that the over-simplified grading system does not adequately reflect those differences, however, anything that gets people's attention and gets them to improve is a plus. Hopefully, the public school side will see the benefit and seek to improve as well.

Homer1
MIDVALE, UT

Orem parent -

your quote: When the charters were vying for funding they constantly told us they were going to do more with less funding. They were going to show the real schools how it should be done.

This statement represents what clouds the issues when discussing charter schools or public schools in general. It is incorrect. What the principal (Julie Adamic) at John Hancock Academy said is correct. People sometimes have a hard time "pinning down" a definition of a charter school because simply put, a charter school is a unique public school governed by a unique definition or mission statement, a "charter" if you will. One with a charter that focuses on the performing arts, for example, or college preparation or on teenaged mothers can't be lumped together as the same thing. And they most certainly were not created to "show the real high schools how it should be done". They were created to more specifically and hopefully more effectively meet the needs of different students. You dismiss the opinions and statement of an actual charter school principal in favor of an inaccurate ideological talking point.

Homer1
MIDVALE, UT

There is no pretense or hype as I enter my classroom at a high school charter school to face almost 200 students each year and certainly no time to worry about winning some political battle. And, after eleven years of this work, it's certainly not some "experiment". There is no "vying over" funding resources because kids need to be educated no matter where they are or where they choose to be. And this argument about "duplication of services" doesn't even make sense. Every school no matter how small or large, urban or rural, public or private works hard to do the same thing--take individual human beings as they are and help them continue their life-long progression to reaching their potential.

dumprake
Washington, UT

Don't try to tell the parents of the kids who attend charter schools this nonsense, they know better. charter schools are light years ahead of the traditional schools in all the things that matter, and it isn't just some phony test performance mandated by the federal educational dictators.

raybies
Layton, UT

Early college High schools in the state, which are considered charter schools, did phenomenally well. They set the curve high enough that only 7 A's were awarded (out of hundreds of state schools). There's a performance gap in this model of school, because they understand that you MUST master language arts and math in order to get into college--and that's their goal.

At NUAMES (and probably AMES and InTech) students a large percentage of their graduating seniors are fulltime college students already, and they have earned their associates degree from an accredited state university (Weber State).

The students are remarkably focused on their studies because that's what they signed up for. They aren't forced to be there, and in fact many spend their last couple years more on the university campus than on their respective high school campuses.

They don't see High school as the end of the road, and are geared toward success when they enter university life fulltime.

The truth is many kids are told when they're young that university is not for them. Regardless of whether it's true, the message kills their motivation long before they approach HS graduation.

Cool Cat Cosmo
Payson, UT

As a former teacher at a charter school, I for one believe that some charter schools are rife with nepotism, favoritism, and frankly are run by a cadre of near-fanatics who are convinced that they know better than the rest of the world.

Honestly, it is scary the lengths that some administrators, teachers and parents will go in order to maintain their little charter school kingdom. Charter schools are like their own independent school districts, and as such the people in power wield a LOT of undue influence. Unfortunately, in the majority of the charter schools that I've worked with that power is severely abused.

I am sure that is not always the case, but I for one have had some very negative experiences with the charter school experiment.

DN Subscriber 2
SLC, UT

Grades are one indicator of how well a school meets the needs of its students, and their parents.

The big difference is that parents sending their kids to charter schools have made the choice to do so, and are free to go back to a traditional schools if they think that will produce better results.

The usual critics, mainly the government school and teachers union establishment, will make excuses for their performance and condemn the charter schools. Charter school advocates have already shown that their focus is on improving their performance.

Charter schools are a success, or by any measurement, no worse than "government skools."

ConservativeCommonTater
West Valley City, UT

It was the religious right that was promoting "Charter Schools" in Utah, along with a few legislators that had a financial interest in building and running these schools. The voucher system was soundly trounced.

If there is no academic difference between Charter Schools and Public schools, what is the real reason for creating Charter Schools?

squirt
Taylorsville, ut

DN Subscriber,
The interesting FACT is that the percentage of students returning from charter schools back to traditional public schools post October 1-thus allowing the charter to keep the money is significant.

The original legislation called for 8 schools. What I find so disturbing is the fact that charter school proponents originally stated they could do better for less money. Now all they want is more money at the expense of our neighborhood public schools. They do NOT outperform our neighborhood schools and are an expense that we simply cannot afford to continually increase and fund in Utah.

JBQ
Saint Louis, MO

If a local school board runs a public school, then it is probably a success. Charter schools are an alternative to decaying city public schools with a less than adequate school board. This is not "apples and oranges". Most public schools do a very good job in reflecting the standards of the community. The problem is where the Department of Education uses the excuse of a failing school and brings in the socialist "Core Standards" from DC in the name of reform. According to the US Constitution, education is a "state function". The State of Utah functions well under this scenario. The state just doesn't have the resources to shore up failing schools. There are some very good charter school organizations whose main goal is to bring discipline to communities which are made up of immigrants and ethnics. Language barriers in one form or another or mostly responsible for the failure of test scores to rise. Meanwhile, they are receiving wonderful discipline and families are happy.

Lindsay
Payson, UT

The charter school in our area that everyone sends their kids to got a C. My kids public school got a B. The not great public school in town got a C. Seems like the charter kids aren't any smarter than the public ones, they do have uniforms though.

Mc
West Jordan, UT

Charter schools have an incentive to try harder. If they do not meet the needs of their students the parents will pull them out and send them back to their neighborhood school or to another charter school. If too many students leave, the school will lose it's charter and have to close. There is no such incentive for public schools to try harder. They will remain open no matter how bad their grade is. They don't mind losing students to charter schools because they still keep state funding for those students even though they don't have to educate them.

Kings Court
Alpine, UT

"Like traditional schools, charter schools are good and not so good." In reality this really means that some neighborhoods are good and not so good. That is what this so-called letter grade is really telling us. Nothing new there folks. Research has shown time and time again that the best predictor of student success is the mother's educational attainment. Wealthier areas tend to have more educated parents and therefore better performing students.

Seek to understand
Sandy, UT

Squirt - the state did an audit last year to research the "fact" that you stated - that there are a significant number of charter school students who leave their schools after October 1 and yet the charter keeps the funding all year.

The state learned through its audit that the % of kids moving from charters is nearly the exact same % as students leaving their district schools after October 1, so there was no compelling reason to "fix" the funding to solve the problem (because it didn't exist).

Thank you for bringing to light one more charter school myth that can be put to rest through data and evidence.

Kings Court
Alpine, UT

As we speak, I have no doubt that many legislators are crafting legislation to exempt charter schools from the school grading system after the data shows that they are not what they claim to be.

squirt
Taylorsville, ut

Seek To Understand,

Please cite the "study" you reference. I will cite the study I referenced-Charter Schools:Think Twice-Anrea Rorrer did the research out of the U of U. Let's see if you can provide the same information.

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