The Myth Of Charter Academic Excellence Crashes Down

Table 1 Charter and District A-F percentages 2016-17
CHARTER % TOTAL DISTRICT % TOTAL
A 52 14% 180 16%
B 95 26% 363 33%
C 72 20% 315 29%
D 17 5% 134 12%
F 10 3% 20 2%
No Results 31 9% 26 2%
Under Review 84 23% 63 6%
TOTAL 361 1101

District schools outshine charter schools on the 2016-17 preliminary A-F school ratings and touted college prep charters suffer the embarrassment of B’s and C ‘s

The release of the preliminary 2016-17 A-F scores for Arizona Schools on October 9th held some shocking news for the school choice movement. Despite the significant lack of minority, poor, and special needs students in charter schools compared to district schools, charter schools failed to out-perform public district schools. Overall, charters had a significantly smaller percentage of schools receiving either an “A” or “B” rating – nearly half of all district schools received an “A” or “B” while only 40% of charter did so. [See Table 1]

George Washington Academy, an Edkey school founded by Senate Education Chair Sylvia Allen, was one of the ten failing charter schools.

Basis, Great Hearts, and other college prep charter schools are reeling from the news that they have many ”B” and even “C” schools in the 2016-17 A-F rankings.

Basis has four schools that received a “B” rating and another 10 Basis schools have requested a review of their scores – implying that they did not receive the expected “A” rating. Great Hearts has seven schools with “B” ratings and four with a “C” rating. Eight more Great Hearts schools have requested a review. [See Table 2]

Table 2 Basis and Great Hearts A-F ratings 2016-17
Charter School Grade Charter School Grade
BASIS Goodyear A Great Hearts Academies – Archway Chandler A
BASIS Phoenix Central Primary A Great Hearts Academies – Archway Cicero A
BASIS Tucson Primary A Great Hearts Academies – Archway Scottsdale A
BASIS Chandler Primary – North Campus B Great Hearts Academies – Archway Lincoln B
BASIS Chandler Primary- South Campus B Great Hearts Academies – Archway North Phoenix B
BASIS Goodyear Primary B Great Hearts Academies – Archway Trivium East B
BASIS Oro Valley Primary B Great Hearts Academies – Archway Trivium West B
BASIS Ahwatukee Under Review Great Hearts Academies – Archway Veritas B
BASIS Chandler Under Review Great Hearts Academies – Cicero Prep B
BASIS Flagstaff Under Review Great Hearts Academies – Maryvale Prep B
BASIS Mesa Under Review Great Hearts Academies – Archway Arete C
BASIS Oro Valley Under Review Great Hearts Academies – Archway Glendale C
BASIS Peoria Under Review Great Hearts Academies – Lincoln Prep C
BASIS Phoenix Under Review Great Hearts Academies – Teleos Prep C
BASIS Prescott Under Review Great Hearts Academies – Anthem Prep Under Review
BASIS Scottsdale Under Review Great Hearts Academies – Arete Prep Under Review
BASIS Tucson North Under Review Great Hearts Academies – Chandler Prep Under Review
Great Hearts Academies – Glendale Prep Under Review
Great Hearts Academies – North Phoenix Prep Under Review
Great Hearts Academies – Scottsdale Prep Under Review
Great Hearts Academies – Trivium Prep Under Review
Great Hearts Academies – Veritas Prep Under Review

Districts where many of the Basis and Great Heart students reside had a large number of A schools. Scottsdale Unified had over 65% of its schools receive an A rating (15 of 23 schools) and Gilbert Unified had 14 of 34 schools receive an A. [See Table 3 and 4]

Table 3 Scottsdale Unified A-F ratings 2016-17 Table 4 Gilbert Unified A-F ratings 2016-17
Scottsdale Unified Schools Grade Gilbert Unified Schools
Anasazi Elementary A Burk Elementary School A
Cherokee Elementary School A Canyon Rim Elementary A
Cheyenne Traditional School A Carol Rae Ranch Elementary A
Cochise Elementary School A Finley Farms Elementary A
Cocopah Middle School A Greenfield Elementary School A
Desert Canyon Elementary A Highland Park Elementary A
Hopi Elementary School A Meridian A
Kiva Elementary School A Neely Traditional Academy A
Laguna Elementary School A Oak Tree Elementary A
Mountainside Middle School A Pioneer Elementary School A
Navajo Elementary School A Playa del Rey Elementary School A
Pima Elementary School A Quartz Hill Elementary A
Pueblo Elementary School A South Valley Jr. High A
Redfield Elementary School A Towne Meadows Elementary School A
Sequoya Elementary School A Ashland Elementary B
Desert Canyon Middle School B Augusta Ranch Elementary B
Echo Canyon K-8 B Gilbert Classical Academy Jr. B
Hohokam Traditional School B Gilbert Elementary School B
Ingleside Middle School B Greenfield Junior High School B
Mohave Middle School B Highland Jr High School B
Yavapai Elementary School B Islands Elementary School B
Tavan Elementary School C Mesquite Elementary School B
Tonalea K-8 C Mesquite Jr High School B
Copper Ridge School Under Review Patterson Elementary School B
Settlers Point Elementary B
Sonoma Ranch Elementary School B
Spectrum Elementary B
Superstition Springs Elementary B
Val Vista Lakes Elementary School B
Boulder Creek Elementary C
Desert Ridge Jr. High C
Gilbert Junior High School C
Harris Elementary School C
Houston Elementary School C

With 147 charter and district schools under review, it is too early to make definitive statements about the 2016-17 A-F ratings. Two things are certain: It is going to be much harder for parents to fork out the $1500 “suggested donation” to a Basis or Great Hearts school that has a B or C rating. And school choice advocates will not be able to hide behind the mantra that charter schools do not need to be transparent because they perform at such a high level. It doesn’t look like charters are doing so well.

A full report will be released when final grades are determined.

12 Comments on "The Myth Of Charter Academic Excellence Crashes Down"

  1. I did not see any strong argument against school choice for parents here in TUSD. The School District run by Grijalva.

  2. Cream rises to the top – If my kids were of school age – no way we’d ever do TUSD again.

  3. The state is basically doctoring the numbers so that K-8 schools get a significant % of their letter grade based on a student’s score improving, whereas 9-12 schools get a far less % of their letter grade based on that. This doesn’t change anything. I wouldn’t say that the charter schools are “reeling.” Charter schools and many public schools administrators have gone to the state arguing about how the new formula being used actually seems to penalize schools who have a high % of high performing students that are consistently higher performing.

    Also, the Arizonans for Charter School Accountability group is pretty anti-charter school. That alone makes this article hardly a fair and balanced article.

  4. There was an article in ADI just last week about the ADE “fudging” the school grades to make them look better, for the express purpose of keeping kids in district schools as opposed to charter schools. The reporter who tried to get the stats from ADE was escorted off the property in order to hide those grades. It’s time to fire those in ADE who gather such statistics only to change the results to make it look like their jobs are worth our tax dollars.

  5. Ho hum. I`ll wait for an unbiased analyses from the ADI`s excellent education journalist Loretta Hunicutt, before I get get too excited about these results. Like most Arizonans, I don`t trust the guvment or these groups with a vested interest for or against charter schools like the Arizonans For Charter School Accountability. Presumably Hunicutt will wait until all the results are in (after all the no results and under review schools grades are included in the data before she does her analysis. We can do without divisiveness over preliminary results when we can shortly have a great big fight over the final data! On the other hand, the results shown above are pretty much what any reasonable observer would expect anyway.

  6. They can fudge the numbers or whatever, I know my daughter did excellent at her charter school, Sonoran Science Academy,Tucson. She is still in contact with her friends and all are doing great. This school is one of the best charter schools in Tucson. My grandson is already making plans to send his young daughter there, my daughter graduated in May from U of A, Eller College of Business. I owe Sonoran Science for their great teachers and how they educate, my daughter started there an average student prone to goofing off and graduated with high GPA and maturity. Thank you, SSA!

  7. Look who wrote this article. Get yer kids outta public “schools”.

  8. First: charter schools are public schools. No mandatory tuition = public school. The main difference is that they don’t belong to a district in the business of educating children, they belong to an individual or a company in the business of making money.

    Second, charter schools suck. They have no boundaries, so they have no obligation to the community they exist in. There is no oversight for administration. Frequently teachers do not have to be certified and lack experience. They are not required to have a psych, sped services, or even a nurse.

    They are the bottom feeders of education… no matter what their letter grade is.

    • Then how do you explain the high grades of a few charter schools? The high grades of their students and percentage of students who go on to college? The percentage of students that graduate from college?
      Do you have personal experience with charter schools? I mean the good ones? I agree that some charter schools are below average, but don’t paint all charter schools as being the same . It’s like saying all schools are bad because of the poor record of another school.
      Your talking out of your azzz!

      • Yup. Experience with public and charter. I said that they suck, in general. I never said that every single school is garbage. That’s my opinion, You are certainly entitled to yours.

        Despite conflicting opinions, the facts I mentioned are indisputable. Charters are not required to meet the same expectations as public. This is at the expense of the families they take in, and they cummunities they serve. Without due process expectations, and boundary lines charters except students “at will.” Meaning, families can be shown the door at any time, and students that are released due to legitimate behavioral and academic concerns end up right back in the public system, years behind the curve.

        In the meantime charters breeze by, sucking away funding, and failing the kids that need the most help. Interesting that even with ability to skirt the rules, there are so many poorly rated ones, don’t you think?

        By the way, that is not how you spell that word. Public schools teach spelling- maybe you should look into one!

  9. The problem I encounterred with my daughter, grades 6-8, she did not actually complete schoolwork to receive passing grades. I requested the principal to hold her back for her to deserve to pass. IT WAS NOT POLICY TO HOLD A CHILD BACK ..
    IT WOULD AFFECT THEIR RATE OF FUNDING TO NOT BE – EXCELLING –

  10. *Communities, pardon me!

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