NEWSWIRE: June 23, 2015

Vol. 17, No. 25
Special Charter Schools Conference Edition

Team @edreform is on the ground at the National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans, where school leaders, educators, parents, and activists are discussing how charter schools can provide a “Chance For Every Child,” the theme of this year’s gathering. A fitting one too, given the fact that New Orleans, post-Katrina, is now 100 percent public charter schools.

Pass rates for minority and low-income students have doubled since charter schools became the norm in New Orleans, and graduation rates have gone from 55 to 75 percent.

But it shouldn’t take a hurricane for our school system to change so that more parents have the power to choose an education that best fits their children’s needs. Although charter schools have grown at a steady, linear pace, it’s vital we continue conversations that help us understand what it takes to accelerate that pace, and accelerate it quickly, in order for charter schools to play an even bigger role in meeting the demand that exists for more excellent education options.

Here are a few highlights so far from the 2015 National Charter Schools Conference:

Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, calls on charter schools to #LeaveNoSeatBehind by backfilling and enrolling students at all grade levels, as there are over 1 million kids on charter school waitlists across the country.

“Charter school reforms in New Orleans have worked. End of story.” – Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White, challenging the rhetoric that still exists in many media reports on charter schools today. “Charter schools are at the heart of rebirth and creating a chance for every child.”

“There are kids out there like me who need you, and they too can go to Harvard or whatever school will rock their world” -Actress Ashley Judd, speaking about the power of education in her life.

Edreform pioneer Deborah McGriff, accepting her induction into the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ Hall of Fame, emphasizes that we must empower parents and community leaders, and continue to fight for bolder changes for our kids.

Charter schools should focus on responsibility before accountability, because then accountability takes care of itself, notes Jim Goenner, President and CEO of National Charter Schools Institute and CER Board Member during his session, Authorizers: Change Agents, Market Makers, and Forces of Quality.

FOR THE LATEST CONFERENCE QUOTES, PICS and updates be sure to follow the hashtag #NCSC15 on Twitter, and the handles @edreform, @chartercon, @CERKaraKerwin and @JeanneAllen.

Charter schools provide choice, high standards

by Jim Horne
Sun Sentinel
June 18, 2015

As someone who has spent more than three decades working in both public and private sectors to improve the lives of Florida’s families, it’s impossible for me to sit idly and let rhetoric trump reality in recent Sun Sentinel coverage of the Palm Beach School District’s war on charter schools.

At the heart of the legal battle the district has mounted against one charter school applicant is this notion that charters must prove they are “innovative” and different from traditional district school programs. District officials aren’t necessarily concerned about “innovation,” but instead are threatened by competition from charter schools and the fact that 19,000 students over the past five years have opted to make a choice. This debate is about power and control and the district’s ultimate goal to take parents back who have fled and deny them their rights to choose the best fit for their children.

School districts by nature are conflicted when it comes to approving charter schools because they view new schools — charter schools — as competition and a drain on their finances. That’s why strong charter school laws, such as Florida’s, set provisions that prevent these conflicting interests from getting in the way of what’s best for our children, such as an appeal process to the state Board of Education when a charter school feels it was unfairly denied.

It’s a pretty simple premise. Parent choice in and of itself is one of the most promising and proven innovations in our great state. Further, state law demands public charter schools be held to the same or even higher standards, assessments and grades as district-managed public schools.

If charter schools fail to meet the terms of their agreement, they are closed. When is the last time you heard a district school was closed for poor performance? Never! As the recent coverage in the Sun Sentinel has demonstrated, charters also operate under heightened scrutiny by the media, general public and even our elected officials. Unfortunately for the majority of students in Florida, traditional public schools do not face the same circumstances.

Palm Beach County’s justification for denying South Palm Beach Charter School is that it’s no different or better than what they offer. To demand charters be innovative is to assume that charters and district schools are on equal footing from the beginning. We know that isn’t true. On statewide metrics, charters perform better and provide solid academic results. Forty-one percent of Florida charter schools earn an “A” compared with 34 percent of traditional public schools according to the Florida Department of Education.

Consider that the South Palm Beach Charter School partnered with Fort Lauderdale-based Charter Schools USA, which manages 48 schools statewide, 18 of which earn “A” grades. If you take all CSUSA Florida schools as a network, they exceed net proficiency growth rates of every district in which they operate.

Both the legal challenge and the changing of Palm Beach County School Board policy to tighten rules for charters are clear signals the district is looking to protect the status quo. When districts lose students to charter schools, they see it as a loss in funding, despite the fact they’re no longer responsible for educating those students. In fact, districts actually end up with more per student money for the students they have, despite the fact they have lost students to charters due to increasing parent dissatisfaction.

That dissatisfaction is visible in the nearly 100,000 students on charter school wait lists in Florida annually. Most of these students are from low-income families and are desperately seeking a chance to escape their assigned schools, discrediting the notion that charter schools cherry pick students. Parents of all types of children are choosing charters because they offer something new or different, and that in and of itself is “innovation.”

The goal of charter schools isn’t simply just to be different, but to be better. And indeed, the data reveal charter schools get results. If they do not, they are closed. At the end of the day, requiring one to be “innovative” is a subjective excuse that’s a result of fear that when given a choice, parents choose something different than the school assigned by their ZIP code.

Jim Horne is the former Florida commissioner of education and also served in the state Senate. Horne is the chairman of the Florida Charter School Alliance.

Local battles for charter schools continue in California

by Alice Salles
Watchdog.com
June 22, 2015

While education reform efforts remain strong at the local level in the face of legislation threatening the very existence of California charter schools, the authorization of new charter schools at the local level remains restrictive.

Under state law, only local or county school boards are allowed to authorize the creation of new charter schools. As the Center for Education Reform reports, restrictive authorization rules in California force charter schools to cluster in very few districts where reform is welcomed. As a result, 158,000 California children remain on waiting lists. For Kern County students who reside in Tehachapi, Calif., moving to a charter school has just become a little more difficult.

According to Tehachapi News, the local school district board has denied a charter petition proposed by Steve Henderson’s Flex Academy. Claiming Flex hadn’t “pass[ed] the necessary requirements,” the Tehachapi Unified School District Board of Trustees voted on May 26 to not allow the group to establish its charter school in the region.

With two locations in California, San Francisco Flex Academy is California’s first full-time hybrid school, which blends online learning with traditional classroom education.

Concerns raised by Superintendent Susan Andreas-Bervel involve the petitioner’s lack of documentation on “how they would handle special education students or the new Common Core program.” But that’s not all.

In the proposal, Flex Academy uses ‘California’ before Flex. To Nick Heinlein, the chief administrator of business for TUSD, naming the public charter ‘California Flex Academy’ and having it located within the boundaries of Kern County indicates the group doesn’t want to focus on Tehachapi. According to TUSD, the board members were also unsatisfied with the proposal’s budget numbers and “concerns” about qualified staff members.

Based on what Friedman Foundation’s John Merrifield has written, education regulations like those in California put unnecessary pressure on educators, and as a result, teachers are more concerned about pushing children to do better in standardized tests than actually teaching them.

From the glowing reviews Flex Academy has received, the charter appears to be a strong applicant for authorization.

To a Flex Academy teacher, the school is important to the community because it “offers each student an individualized education that meets the needs of every kid in the classroom.” To a parent whose son has a learning gap, Flex Academy is important because it offers great support to all of its students:

The teachers were enthusiastic and also were advisors for the various clubs and extracurriculars. The hybrid learning concept is fabulous, particularly if your child is highly focused and motivated, as they can move ahead. Some of my son’s classmates graduated early or had extensive credits due to this. The fact that the school can cater to a myriad of abilities is what makes the school great—support where you need it, great advancement for the student who wants it.

To another parent, “[San Francisco] Flex lives up to its name—it is flexible in a way a lot of public schools aren’t.”

However, the school has also received sharp criticism for using public funding to cover marketing costs in other states.

According to the California Charters School Administration, school districts often fail to evaluate charter petitions on merit. In a statement sent to Watchdog, CCSA’s spokesperson said that “even though California law requires every school district to use the same criteria to evaluate the strength of each new charter petition, political and financial motivations prompt districts to deny charter petitions, even strong applications, from highly capable school operators.”

CCSA says that if Flex Academy believes it was treated unfairly, it still has some recourse; petitioners must appeal to the Kern County Superintendent’s Office. If the county schools office grants the organization a charter, California Flex Academy would be California’s third full-time hybrid K-12 school.

The ability of strictly local or county school boards to authorize charter schools is a drawback that charter schools in Indiana, for instance, do not have to experience. In Indiana, charter schools can be authorized by the executive of a consolidated city or the governing body, state educational institutions that offer four year baccalaureate degrees, nonprofit colleges or universities, or the Indiana Charter School Board. Flexibility has helped Indiana to become the number one state in the Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index.

While California Flex is the latest to have its petition denied by TUSD, Inspire Charter School recently withdrew its petition prior to meeting with the board. According to Heinlein, the staff had already indicated that it would reject the petition prior to the meeting.

Idaho education system eclipsed by neighbor to the south

by PG Veer
Watchdog
June 18, 2015

The Center for Education Reform recently published its annual “parent power index,” a web-based report judging how accessible information on education is for parents in every state. This year, Idaho took the 19th spot in the ranking. It is superior to all of its neighboring western states but Utah, which ranks at number 6.

This relative counter-performance shouldn’t come as a surprise. Indeed, Idaho charter schools are underfunded compared to their Utah counterparts, which receives some money from property taxes. In addition, Utah charter schools have the option of opting out or the state’s retirement system, unlike charter schools in Idaho.

Online education is also lagging behind, unlike Utah.  As reported earlier, while the state improved accessibility to online classes, Idaho virtual schools are financed according to student success rather than per-pupil as public schools are; and Internet speed is still deficient. We will see next year if House Bill 643 improved that deficiency, along with Senate Bill 1091, which creates an online course portal.

Idaho is also stuck with antiquated policies when it comes to teacher quality. The National Council on Teacher Quality’s annual report states that for Idaho’s “exiting ineffective teachers,” “a last hired, first fired layoff policy is prohibited during reductions in force; however, performance is not considered in determining which teacher to lay off.

And while some schools allow feedback on teachers, those who “receive unsatisfactory evaluations are not placed on structured improvement plans.” Idaho does not even have performance pay; instead all teachers –with minor local variations– are on the same scale based on seniority and higher education attainments.

Teacher quality is much higher in Utah. Teachers who receive poor Bevaluations are placed on an improvement plan, their salary is adjusted to their evaluation result starting the following school year, and “performance is the top criterion for districts to consider when determining which teachers to lay off.”

Fortunately, not everything is so dark for Idaho in the PPI. As in Utah, Idaho allows parents to send their children to any school in the state if there is room available. Also, the schools’ report cards rated “helpful, easily accessible, well organized, and offer parents an overall school performance rating.” The School Choice Division even offers information on non-traditional options like charter and home schools. However school elections, unlike Utah, are dispersed through the year rather than being in-sync with the November cycle.

Idaho can do much better when it comes to empowering parents for their children’s education. If everything remains the same then it’s likely that Nevada, with its recent universal school choice law, will even outrank Idaho next year.

NY education receives mixed reviews in ‘Parent Power Index’

By Nicholas C. Fondacaro
Watchdog.com
June 17, 2015

As a parent, would you rather raise your kids in a state known for its iconic skyline, or a state that has become an education icon? Parents in New York have to make that choice.

The Center for Education Reform has released a report about school systems in all 50 states called The Parent Power Index (PPI). The index allows parents to see where their state ranks in terms of educational choice, transparency, and teacher quality. The report ranks New York at 18th place. The position could be worse, but it could also be better.

The PPI finds that New York is a mixed bag when it comes to education.

On the one hand, New York’s charter school law is something other states should emulate. The state has a “high-quality” authorization process made up of a many independent authorizers and “strong accountability.” This authorization system goes all the way up through their higher education system, the State University of New York (SUNY).

But the report also pointed out, “New York’s charter sector has received a lot of print as of late. But a recent lawsuit has pointed out some of the deficiencies in the Empire State’s law that despite its model actions in authorizing”

Last year, charter schools in New York City came under fire when Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to force charter schools out of the buildings they co-utilized with public schools. The New York Post reported:

“Fulfilling a campaign pledge to limit charter expansions within public-school buildings, de Blasio revoked approvals granted last year by the Bloomberg administration to two new Success Academy schools and to a third that planned to expand.”

But since then, the state government has come down on the side of the charter schools. Later that spring, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a budget bill that had provisions to protect charter schools in NYC. The city has two options when dealing with space for charter schools: “It can hand over free space in public or private buildings, or give the schools money to find their own space,” the New York Times reported.

The report also notes that around 50,000 families are still on waiting lists in NYC, because of an arbitrary cap on the amount of charter schools that are allowed to operate in the state (460). This is in contrast to Indiana–number 1 in the report–which has lifted all the caps on charter schools permitted in the state.

The report discusses how teacher quality is handled in New York.  Forty percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based off of “objective evidence of student learning.” Teacher pay and compensation and seniority are also topics covered by the PPI:

Seniority, not performance, is considered during layoffs. Although New York teachers can receive compensation for working in high-need schools or subjects, the state does not support enhanced compensation for work experience, and districts are not discouraged from setting salary schedules based solely on seniority and advanced degrees.

Again, this is in contrast to Indiana. Performance is not only a reason for dismissal but it can be a factor when layoffs are considered. Decisions on a teacher’s tenure status can be decided on by performance.

New York’s record on transparency also received mixed reviews from the PPI. Similar to Indiana, the report praises the state’s customizable report cards (data on all the schools) for being user friendly and having “a wealth of information,” although the sheer amount of data can be “almost overwhelming.”

However, the PPI is critical of New York because it holds school board elections at odd times, April or May, as opposed to with other elections in November. Indiana on the other hand, holds 274 of its school board elections in November, “ensuring parents know when to cast their vote.”

The PPI is designed to give parents a comparative tool to see where their state ranks and how they can improve. Indiana may not the Empire State, but it is turning into a destination for all the right reasons.

Pennsylvania leadership holding back ‘parent power’ in education

By Jana Benscoter
Watchdog.com
June 16, 2015

Pennsylvania ranked 14th in the 2014 Parent Power Index, The Center for Education Reform determined.

According to the nonprofit organization, Parent Power Index is a web-based report card that evaluates and ranks states based on qualitative and proven state education policies. The higher a state’s grade, the more parents are afforded access and information about education options that can deliver successful educational outcomes for their children.

The nonprofit does not score state education laws as “good” or “bad.” It calculates which states have multiple policies that allow a maximum number of parents educational choices. The index has been offered since 1999.

Factors that determine each state’s grade assessed, include: charter school opportunities; school choice options; teacher quality; transparency; online learning; parent trigger laws (the ability to turnaround a a failing school); Governors; and media reliability. Based on those factors, the organization gave Pennsylvania a 74 percent, or a “C.”

In a statement, President of The Center for Education Reform Kara Kerwin said, “While it’s true some states have made progress, it’s not nearly enough to meet demand. Simply put, we need more learning options available to more families, and we need them fast.”

When the index was released, Kerwin noted that “Out of the over 54 million k-12 students nationwide, only an estimated 6.5 million students are taking advantage of charter schools, school choice programs such as vouchers or tax credits, and digital or blended learning models.”

“With the United States’ school-aged population expected to grow at unprecedented rates in the next 15 years, how will our school system be able to meet demand when we already have wait lists for charter schools and oversubscribed scholarship programs?”

Pennsylvania earned higher marks for its Educational Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit. The credit for students in low-performing districts, and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Scholarship for low-income families, both allow for students attending Pennsylvania public schools to have the opportunity to attend private school, the Center reports.

Combining both offers over 60,000 students opportunities, which shows the state permits some choices among traditional public schools, but state law restricts such choice within other districts. The Center pointed out that districts are not required to participate, limiting parents’ options.

A wrinkle in earning a higher overall mark in the index is leadership. The Center reported, that for more than four years, Pennsylvania has unsuccessfully been able to improve and expand the state’s charter law. Many districts oppose charter schools, and withhold needed resources as a condition of their oversight. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat who began his term in January, said he does not want any new charter schools.

“The law has little hope of improving in the near future with the election of a new governor who has repeatedly opposed school choice,” according to the Center. “The School Reform Commission of Philadelphia, for the first time in seven years, was forced to accept and approve charter applications. Thirty-nine applied, and only five were approved in early 2015. Yet, 40,000 students remain on waiting lists in just that city alone.”

The top 15 states with the highest marks, despite most not surpassing 80 percent:

1) Indiana
2) Florida
3) Arizona
4) District of Columbia
5) Georgia
6) Utah
7) Louisiana
8) Ohio
9) Wisconsin
10) Minnesota
11) Oklahoma
12) Colorado
13) Michigan
14) Pennsylvania
15) South Carolina

CER Board of Directors Announces New Member

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
June 17, 2015

The Center for Education Reform (CER) announces the election of Dennis Cariello, a seasoned education lawyer and shareholder at Hogan, Marren, Babbo & Rose, Ltd. to its Board of Directors today.

“Dennis Cariello brings a lot of passion to CER’s diverse and accomplished Board,” said Kara Kerwin, president of CER. “In addition to representing parties on numerous ground-breaking approaches in higher education, his commitment to equity and giving parents fundamental power over their child’s education has been demonstrated time and again lending his legal expertise to charter schools and other schools of choice in a pro-bono capacity.”

With more than 15 years of experience, and having served at the U.S. Department of Education as Deputy General Counsel for Postsecondary Education and Regulatory Services and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement in the Office for Civil Rights, Cariello has developed a diverse national law practice that provides a wide range of services to colleges and universities, student lenders, education investors, and education technology and service providers alike.

“It’s clear from Dennis’ accomplishments that he is committed to ensuring all students have access to excellent education opportunities and that our education system adheres to policies that guarantees that as a basic right for our nation’s future leaders, our kids,” said Michael Moe, Co-Founder of Global Silicon Valley Partners and Vice Chairman of CER’s Board of Directors. “Dennis’ leadership and experience will be an asset to advancing the strategic priorities of the organization.”

For more information on The Center for Education Reform’s leadership and Board of Directors visit https://www.edreform.com/about/people/board-of-directors/.

Newswire: June 16, 2015

Vol. 17, No. 24

VIRTUAL POWER. And no, we’re not talking in hypotheticals here, but about the real power of online learning to close the achievement gap. One of the nation’s largest providers of online education, K12 Inc., released data revealing three of its biggest managed online virtual charter academies, Arizona Virtual Academy, Georgia Cyber Academy, and Texas Virtual Academy, are making progress when it comes to narrowing the gap between poor and non-poor kids, as defined by free or reduced-price lunch (FRL) status. And not to mention, these schools also serve larger percentages (62 percent to be exact) of economically disadvantaged students compared to their state average or even the national average of 50 percent. Although there are some instances where achievement gaps remain between FRL-eligible and non-eligible students, FRL students are still making important gains – it just means their peers are too. Just goes to show what the power of choice in education can to do improve education for ALL of our kids.

MORE CHOICES NEEDED. The state with one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation and ranks #39 on CER’s Parent Power Index, Connecticut, released a 41-page report evaluating its “choice programs,” which it defines as public charter schools, interdistrict magnet schools, and the Open Choice program, based on student achievement on state tests. The Connecticut State Department of Education report reveals mixed results, along with data indicating that having choices does indeed improve outcomes for students. The problem, however, is that the kinds of choices Connecticut parents are afforded is severely limited, as there are no vouchers, tax credit scholarships, or Education Savings Accounts, and the state’s D-rated charter school law prohibits growth. It’s time for Connecticut leadership to step up to the plate and give parents a portfolio of options to be able to choose the best fit for their child.

POLICY MATTERS. Last week, the Louisiana legislature voted to fully fund the state’s scholarship program. Great news that lawmakers continue to push for what’s in the best interest of our kids, but now it’s time for them to go further and make changes to this C-graded voucher program and solve funding issues so kids’ futures aren’t held in the balance each year, hoping for funds to be reappropriated. In order to accelerate the pace of education reform, we must truly understand the importance of good policy. And it’s clear that Louisiana’s policy could be improved to meet the parental demand that exists, with more than 13,000 Louisiana students applying for a voucher for the 2014-15 school year and 7,632 using the voucher to enroll in a school of choice.

COURT BATTLES. Last summer, CER condemned the directive from the Tennessee Education Commissioner to un-enroll 626 students from the Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA), denying them their school choice rights. Legal battles have been waging since then, and thankfully, news came last week that TNVA will be allowed to remain open, as a Davidson County Chancery Court ruled in favor of TNVA families wanting another option for their children. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the South the status quo is fighting hard to prevent parents from having options. In Florida, the teachers union filed an appeal to fight the state’s tax credit scholarship program despite a judge throwing out the lawsuit. In North Carolina, the State Supreme Court still has yet to rule on the constitutionality of the state’s voucher program, which was allowed to serve students this year. And in Washington, D.C. today, oral arguments took place in the U.S. District Court on the District of Columbia’s motion to dismiss the case brought against them for chronically underfunding charter schools. If District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan allows the case to proceed to the merits by failing to grant the District’s motion, it could make a huge difference to the 45 percent of District students who attend charter schools, which have been shortchanged by $770 million in funding since FY 2008.

SCHOOL’S IN SESSION. It’s the start of summer for most, but not for the 30 ‘students’ from a diverse array of backgrounds and organizations throughout the U.S. who have been selected to join the first EdReformU™ History of Charter Schools course, an advanced program created to help students achieve knowledge of the genesis of charter school laws, how the varying policies were first enacted and the impact of one state upon another and on communities within and across state lines. Visit university.edreform.com to learn more and apply for future programs this fall.

#NCSC15. The National Charter Schools Conference is less than a week away! CER is excited to be on the ground in New Orleans from June 21-24 with educators, advocates, service providers, and leaders all working to make a difference so that more kids have more access to public charter schools that deliver the promise of an excellent education for all students. Let us know you’re there by tweeting @edreform! Can’t wait to see you in the Big Easy!

Online Charter Schools Closing Achievement Gap for Low-Income Students

K12 Inc., America’s leading provider of K-12 online school programs, released a new report showing three of its largest managed online charter schools — Texas Virtual Academy (TXVA), Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA), and Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) — are making progress on closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and not disadvantaged students.

The full report can be found here.

“For the 2013-2014 school year, K12 reported that its network of schools enrolled a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students than the national average,” said Dr. Margaret Jorgensen, K12 Chief Academic Officer. “K12-managed schools are working to close the achievement gap, and in this report we look at three cases where schools are closing the gap between students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch and those not eligible. In other instances, we observed that students who were eligible for either free or reduced price lunch are achieving higher percentages at or above proficiency on state tests, while others who were not eligible for subsidized meals were making even greater gains in proficiency.”

“Our commitment at K12 is to serve all students, regardless of their academic or socioeconomic circumstance,” said Mary Gifford, Senior Vice President of Education and Policy. “We recognize that many of the schools we serve have a higher population who come from low-income households than the national average.  We are pleased that the instructional programs and wrap around family support services we are providing at these schools are demonstrating positive results.”

Texas Virtual Academy: In Reading, comparing TXVA students enrolled 3 years or more to those enrolled less than 1 year, proficiency percentages increased with longer enrollment for Free Lunch Eligible students by 20 percentage points, for Reduce-Price Lunch by 18 percentage points, and for Not Eligible by 15 percentage points. Notable at TXVA is the impressive improvement in Mathematics for each category of students enrolled 3 years or more, with 74% of students eligible for Free Lunch reaching proficiency, 81% of students eligible for Reduced-Price Lunch reaching proficiency, and 94% of students Not Eligible for subsidized meals reaching proficiency.

Arizona Virtual Academy: In Reading, proficiency percentages increased for AZVA in all free or reduced-priced lunch (FRL) groups. The gap between Free Lunch Eligible and Not Eligible narrowed from 17 percentage points for students enrolled less than 1 year, to 15 percentage points for students enrolled 3 years or more. In Mathematics, compared to students enrolled less than 1 year, AZVA students enrolled 3 years or more achieved higher proficiency percentages across all FRL groups.

Georgia Cyber Academy: In Reading, compared to students enrolled less than 1 year, GCA students enrolled 3 years or more achieved higher proficiency percentages, except for students eligible for Reduced-Price Lunch Eligible. The overall proficiency percentage of students eligible for Reduced-Price Lunch enrolled 3 years of more remained high at 95%. In Mathematics, compared to students enrolled less than 1 year, GCA students enrolled 3 years or more achieved higher proficiency percentages in all FRL groups.

The report concludes that AZVA, TXVA, and GCA continue to narrow the gap between students who are economically disadvantaged and those that are not, while simultaneously raising the achievement levels of all free or reduced-price lunch groups in both Reading and Mathematics. The three K12-managed schools have improved student performance as measured on their state test year over year.

This K12 report is a third in a series of white papers highlighting K12 partner schools and programs that have demonstrated improved results and raised student academic achievement. Other reports include: Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy: A Success Story, Prepared for Launch and Success at New Mexico Virtual Academy, in addition to K12’s annual 2015 Academic Report.

EdReformU™ Second Semester Now in Session

Foundational Charter School History Program Launched This Week

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
June 16, 2015

Thirty students from throughout the U.S. and a diverse array of backgrounds and organizations have been selected to join the first History of Charter Schools course, an advanced program created to help students achieve knowledge of the genesis of charter school laws, how the varying policies were first enacted and the impact of one state upon another and on communities within and across state lines. Students will acquire an understanding of the vast and unique political atmosphere of charter school policy, and be prepared to accomplish the creation of maximally effective charter school laws.

EdReformU™ operates much like a MOOC, using the QLearn Mobile technology platform created by Qualcomm for the nation’s leading universities, but provides opportunity for live collaboration and interaction with professors. It is led by CER Founder and president emeritus Jeanne Allen, who currently serves as Senior Fellow and Dean of EdReformU™. Classes are hosted as well by adjuncts of education reform.

“By using history as a guide, the possibilities to accelerate the pace of education reform, particularly charter schools, are endless,” said Allen.

The History of Charter Schools is a particularly important course. Despite the more than 20 years success of charter school laws as the first fundamental structural change made in the operations of public education since the creation of the common school, charter school policy suffers from legislative misunderstanding and implementation confusion.

The mission of EdReformU™ is to inform, educate and activate students in the history of the education reform movement. Participants will learn from the context of those early education reform experiences, which actually repeat themselves year after year, often unbeknownst to those involved.

This course follows the foundational education reform course, The Decline and Fall of U.S. Education, which will be repeated in the fall. Over time, EdReformU™ will offer multiple programs to educate a number of different kinds of individuals in the history, context and systemic changes needed to allow entrepreneurial people and their ideas to impact the education of young people.

Accomplishment in the eight-week course will be recognized with a certificate. To learn more about EdReformU™, go to university.edreform.com. To get on a list for future application periods, contact apply@edreform.com.