Local: Education

First-ever rankings place 15 D.C. charter schools at bottom of pile

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Local,DC,Education,Lisa Gartner

Fifteen D.C. charter schools were placed in the bottom tier of the first-ever rankings of campuses by the D.C. Public Charter School Board on Tuesday.

Four of them may have their charters revoked, while the 22 schools in the top tier are being examined to see what makes them work so well.

The Performance Management Framework, or PMF, has been in the works for three years. Schools are ranked based on factors such as performance on state exams, attendance, re-enrollment rates, and attention to critical grades. In the elementary and middle schools, a school's year-to-year improvement accounts for the lion's share of the rating at 40 percent.

How they ranked
Top five chartersOverall percentageWardGrade Levels
D.C. Preparatory-Edgewood Campus92.3%54-8
KIPP DC: KEY Academy86.4%74-8
KIPP DC: WILL Academy85.5%25-8
KIPP DC: AIM Academy85.2%85-8
Latin American Montessori Bilingual84.4%4PS-5
Bottom 5 charter schoolsOverall percentageWardGrade Levels
Septima Clark21.2%8PS-5
Options PCS (upper grades)19.9%66-12
Community Academy-Rand Campus19.5%5PS-5
Options (middle grades)15.7%66-12
Maya Angelou-Shaw Campus13.6%19-12

Schools whose composite score is between 65 and 100 percent are considered to meet high standards, landing them in Tier I. Those that fall short, but score at least 35 percent, are classified as Tier 2, meeting minimum requirements.

For the 15 schools labeled Tier 3, their "inadequate performance" merits increased academic oversight as they were told they are underserving their students. The four that fell below 20 percent will be reviewed for revocation at the board's next meeting on Dec. 19.

It's a swift axe, with school closure decisions made by February and schools possibly closed at the end of the school year.

"If we don't see that a school has a clear path toward improvement in a short amount of time, we'll probably close them," said Darren Woodruff, chairman of the charter board's schools committee.

Any school that is Tier 3 for three years in a row, as well as any school that falls five or more points in one year, also will be considered for closure in the years ahead.

The new rankings held a few surprises. Ideal Academy Public Charter School received an adequate, Tier 2 rating, after being considered for revocation last spring, when the board charged the Ward 4 campus with failing to implement a curriculum.

Friendship Public Charter Schools, which runs the turnaround effort at D.C. Public Schools' Anacostia Senior High School, saw its four campuses fall into Tier 2.

The top rating went to D.C. Preparatory Public Charter School's Edgewood campus, at 92.3 percent. The lowest was Maya Angelou Public Charter School's high school campus in Shaw, which met just 13.6 percent of expectations.

Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School received a 67.2 percent rating, eking into Tier 1 by two points. "I think there has always been competition among the schools," said Linda Moore, founder and CEO of Stokes. "Whether we're competing against each other, against the status quo, or against our own visions, I think we all want the best for kids."

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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