Differing Charter School Circumstances

Is it relevant to lump all charter schools together when reporting their performance, impact, success and/or failures? Is it relevant to lump all charter schools together when reporting their performance, impact, success and/or failures? Is it appropriate to create charter school generalities drawn from combining very different schools, with incommensurable missions and student populations?

The following information, as reported by Don Oatman in the “OVERLOOKED ISSUES PERTAINING TO JEFFCO CHARTER SCHOOLS” report, brings to light some of the differing circumstances of Colorado charter schools and why these disparities should be considered when attempting to make generalities about charter schools:

“Issue Number One – Differing Charter School Circumstances

Most studies regarding charter schools identify information pertaining to all charter schools and fail to reference the varying situations pertaining to charter schools within individual districts or in comparison to other districts. A Denver Post editorial discussed the success the Denver Public Schools (DPS) were having with charter schools and chided Jeffco for focusing on fiscal issues and not addressing the needs of the students. This editorial does not identify the circumstances pertaining to the students being served by charter schools in the two districts.

DPS has made a major effort to upgrade the educational experience for at risk students who may have difficulty achieving success in a traditional school setting. Jeffco has a number of at risk students, however, the majority of the Jeffco charter schools tend not to address at risk students, but are providing options for more traditional students. Of the 31 DPS charter schools identified in the CDE publication, The State of Charter Schools in Colorado, published in 2013, a total of 27 of these schools had a free and reduced (FRL) percentage of students over 50 percent and four had an FRL percentage below 50 percent. In DPS, 75 percent of the charter school students qualify for FRL. Jeffco had 15 charter schools with FRL of under 50 percent with one school in excess of this number. In Jeffco, 13 percent of the charter school students qualified for FRL with the two Compass Montessori Charter Schools having no students qualifying for FRL.

Information for Jeffco and Douglas County, another suburban school district, indicates a dramatic difference between the students served by charter schools in urban settings such as DPS and those served in Jeffco and Douglas County.

Three additional charter schools have been authorized by the Jeffco Board of Education since the CDE report was completed. None of these schools have identified a goal of serving at-risk students.”

More information regarding this and additional charter school issues can be found in the full report at http://goo.gl/vcXF8G

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