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charter schools Archives - North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools

Debbie Veney Op-Ed: Don’t Cut Charter Schools Program Funding

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Debbie Veney is the senior vice president for communications and marketing at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Photo credit: NAPCS.

President Biden’s FY 25 budget includes a funding cut to the federal Charter Schools Program. That proposed cut comes after years of  flat funding for a program that plays an important role in launching and expanding public charter schools nationwide. Debbie Veney, a senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, has a new op-ed out about the political stakes for cutting charter funding–and how ignoring the needs of parent voters is perilous for politicians.

In our post today, we share an excerpt from Debbie’s op-ed below:

I vote in every election. When it comes to casting a ballot, whether it’s for president, Congress, state legislators, governor, mayor or city council, I am always going to vote based on what’s best for my child. There is nothing a candidate can say about any issue that will change this calculus. If I don’t believe my child will be better off with that person in office, they will not get my vote.

And I am not alone. There are millions of Americans — white, Black, Hispanic, Democrat, Republican, rural, suburban, urban — who will make the very same decision come November. Choosing to put our kids first is not a political issue; it’s just how we are wired.

Federal Charter Schools Program Maintains Level Funding for 2024

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The federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) will maintain its current level of funding for 2024. This is good news for a program that, with funding set at $440 million, represents a small fraction of federal spending on education–but plays a big role in helping charter schools nationwide grow. The program provides grants to help new charter schools launch and existing charter schools replicate or expand. In addition, CSP grants target access to facilities and more.

Eric Paisner, the acting president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, released a statement earlier this week about the FY 2024 budget, noting:

In the FY2024 Budget, signed by President Biden just days agothe federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) was protected from cut. Congress included level funding of $440 million for the CSPwhich was a remarkable victory given the contentious nature of the budget appropriations process this year. This marks the fifth year of level funding to the nation’s only source of dedicated federal funding for the creation of high-quality and in-demand public charter schools.  

The FY2024 budget includes new guiding language to allow for more flexibility in the use of CSP funds, including allocating funds to programs based on the needs of the field and supporting technical assistance for subgrantees. Most importantly, the cap is lifted on the State Facilities Incentives Grant, which makes it possible for the program to award new grants more frequently than once every five years. This means more schools will benefit from this funding stream as well as more states will be supported as they establish eligibility for this grant.

We thank the Appropriations Committee Chairs and Ranking Members for recognizing the value and educational opportunity public charter schools provide to families across the nation.

More advocacy for CSP lies ahead, however. Unfortunately, President Biden’s 2025 budget includes a $40 million cut to CSP. The Alliance is asking Congress for $500 million for the program. In addition, Congress is considering two bills that will amplify the work of CSP. Read more about those bills here. See more about the technical changes to CSP in the 2024 budget.

New 2023 Pandemic Recovery Data, with Charter Performance Coming Soon

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Earlier this week, the State Board of Education heard a presentation from a new report measuring pandemic learning recovery. Data are being analyzed as part of a multi-year project with SAS Institute. Dr. Jeni Corn, the director of research and evaluation at the Department of Public Instruction, and Dr. John White, a vice president at SAS, presented the data.

According to the new report, data reflect three specific time periods and show:

  • Pre-pandemic trends (2013-2019)
  • Pandemic impact
  • Distance to full recovery

Key findings from the new report:

  • Performance on the Grade 3 Reading EOG (End of Grade test) and English II EOC (End of Course test) is now above the recovery threshold.
  • Students have made gains in Grades 3-5 Reading and Math as well as in Grade 5 Science.
  • There was an “unexpected” drop in Grade 8 Science.
  • Math continues to be more problematic than reading for learning recovery.
  • Compared to performance before the pandemic, there is “considerably more variation among schools,” according to Dr. Corn.

DPI will release “charters-only” and school-level data on January 22. OLR will hold charters-only sessions and will be in every region of the state in the coming weeks.

Source: “2023 Statewide Year-Over-Year Trends in Achievement: Before, During, and After the Pandemic,” Presentation to the State Board of Education, January 3, 2024.

Source: “2023 Statewide Year-Over-Year Trends in Achievement: Before, During, and After the Pandemic.”  

View the presentation to SBE or the report to the General Assembly. Read the press release from DPI or articles from WUNC and WFAE.

Participate in the Coalition’s Dance Video Contest for NSCW 2024!

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Are your students ready to dance? National School Choice Week 2024 is coming up fast on January 21-27, and the Coalition is hosting a dance contest for all of the state’s charter schools. We invite you and your students to showcase your school choice dance moves, using the tutorial and song outlined by National School Choice Week. In addition to bragging rights, the winner will receive an in-class pizza party—at the Coalition’s expense!!—for up to 35 students. We’ll also share the winning video, along with a runner-up video, on our Coalition platforms as part of our National School Choice Week promotion and celebration.

Action steps:

  • Decide to dance!
  • Watch the video tutorial from Indian River Charter School in Florida below on You Tube. The 14-minute video includes step by step instructions with four students and then the full dance, put to music with Indian River students.
  • Recruit dancers at your school and begin to practice.
  • Record your dance video and upload it to our Google Drive Folder by 6 p.m. Friday, December 15. Be sure to review the “Read First” instructions in the folder before uploading your video.
  • Sit back and rest! Meanwhile, Coalition Board members* will serve as judges for video submissions. *Board members at participating schools will recuse themselves as judges.
  • We will announce the winner in our Coalition Connection and Charter Chatter newsletters on Saturday, January 20—right before the launch of National School Choice Week.

Learn more:

  • Read about the dance and access a tutorial here and here.
  • Download the steps here.
  • Download the song here.

Questions? Contact Coalition Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis at nc.chartercoalition.org or 704.231.9767.

Report: Charter Schools Spend ‘Fewer Dollars to Achieve Better Outcomes’

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A new report from a team of researchers at the University of Arkansas’ Department of Education Reform reinforces the market value of public charter schools. The report, “Still a Good Investment: Charter School Productivity in Nine Cities,” evaluated economic and academic metrics related to charter schools in a geographically diverse sample of U.S. cities. Researchers concluded: “We find that charter schools tend to demonstrate greater efficiency on both metrics of cost-effectiveness and return on investment, using fewer dollars to achieve better outcomes, relative to TPS (traditional public schools).”

The cities included: Camden, New Jersey; Denver, Colorado; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York City; San Antonio, Texas; and Washington, DC.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:

  • Charters are more cost-effective: Charter schools operate at a level of cost-effectiveness that is 40% higher than TPS. Researchers determined cost-effectiveness based on NAEP test score increases for every $1,000 in per pupil expenditures.
  • Charters produce higher ROI: Attending a charter school for 13 years increases ROI (return on investment) by over 58% compared to TPS. Practically speaking, for every dollar invested, charter school students recoup an additional $2.31 in lifetime earnings, relative to their peers in TPS. (See the table below.)

Source: “Still a Good Investment: Charter School Productivity in Nine Cities,” University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, November 2023.

Jeanne Allen, the founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, commented on the report in a news release yesterday, noting:

The reason this is so valuable is because on a daily basis people discount the importance of charter schools. But it turns out when public schools have freedom and flexibility to do their work, are not hamstrung by traditional rules and regulations, and parents have these choices, students thrive. It’s no surprise that students who attend public charter schools in cities like Indianapolis and Washington, DC, despite receiving much less funding, achieve at a rate that is two to three times higher than their traditional public school counterparts.

 

New Study: Attending KIPP Charter Schools Helps Boost College Completion

By News, Research

Students who attend KIPP middle and high schools are much more likely to enroll in–and finish–college than students who don’t. Those are the exciting findings from a new Mathematica study, released earlier this month.

KIPP, an acronym for Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national nonprofit network of public charter schools in 21 states and Washington, D.C. The network consists of 275 schools, serving 120,000 mostly minority and economically disadvantaged students. In North Carolina, KIPP’s network features eight public charter schools, including several Coalition member schools.

Here’s the write-up from KIPP about the findings:

The study followed 2,066 students from ten regions who applied to join KIPP in 5th and 6th grade via an admissions lottery. These students graduated from high school in the classes of 2016, 2017, and 2019 … Researchers tracked the college enrollment and persistence patterns of all three cohorts for at least three years after high school graduation.

… The study concludes that students who persist at KIPP from middle school to high school experience a large, long-term boost in their college outcomes.

KIPP impacts and college completion

Specifically, KIPP graduates were 31% more likely to enroll in college than students who did not attend KIPP middle and high schools. Almost twice as many KIPP graduates earned a degree from a four-year college within five years, compared to non-KIPP students (39% versus 20%).  Such impacts, KIPP notes, are “large enough to close the degree completion gap for Black students and nearly close the degree completion gap for Latinx students in the United States.”

Source: “Long-Term Impacts of KIPP Middle and High Schools on College Enrollment, Persistence, and Attainment,” Mathematica, September 12, 2023.

Read the Mathematica study, KIPP’s summary, or The 74 article about the study.

Greensboro Academy Named 2023 National Blue Ribbon School

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The U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday announced the 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools. Public and private schools nationwide are eligible for Blue Ribbon recognition in one of two categories: Exemplary High-Performing Schools or Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools.

Eight N.C. schools named 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools

This year, the Education Department recognized 353 schools across the country, including eight schools in North Carolina. One of these schools, Greensboro Academy, is a public charter school managed by National Heritage Academies as well as a Coalition member school. Greensboro Academy was recognized as an Exemplary High-Performing School.

In a press release, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said:

These schools are a shining example of the incredible things North Carolina’s public schools are capable of accomplishing. I’m so proud of the students, teachers, staff members, and leadership of each of these schools for their hard work over the past year.
Congratulations to all of the National Blue Ribbon Schools–but especially to Greensboro Academy and the North Carolina public schools! The Coalition is proud of your achievements.
  • Watch the video announcement of the 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools.
  • Click here or on the image below to see the 2023 infographic.

Coalition responds to State Board of Ed. policy threatening charter funding

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Last Thursday, the State Board of Education voted 8-3 to approve a new policy that threatens funding for new  charter schools. This policy, CHTR-022, requires the Charter Schools Review Board to present all approved applications, renewals, and material revisions to the State Board for funding allocation before any state or federal funds can be disbursed, to ensure schools are in compliance. It comes in response to Session Law 2023-110 converting the Charter Schools Advisory Board into the Charter Schools Review Board, with authority to approve and renew charters.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell, Dr. Olivia Oxendine, and Lt. Governor Mark Robinson voted against the policy. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt, a non-voting member of SBE, also voiced concerns.

Coalition response to the State Board’s policy

The Coalition issued a press release and statement in response to the State Board’s policy, noting that it violates state law and threatens to withhold funds from new public charter schools. In the release, Coalition Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis said:

North Carolina charter schools are enormously popular with families, as evidenced by the 77,000 names on charter school waitlists. The legislature streamlined the approval process for new public charter schools to meet this demand. The State Board of Education is wrong to play these bureaucratic power games when parents just want options in their public schooling.

The Coalition also sent a letter to SBE members outlining concerns about the policy.

Read more

Sixteen N.C. Charter Schools Make Annual List of Best High Schools

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Sixteen North Carolina charter schools earned a top-50 spot in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking, released yesterday, of the state’s best public high schools. Top 2023-24 high schools across the nation, according to the publication, were those producing high student test scores and “strong underserved student performance, college readiness and curriculum breadth, as well as graduation rates.”

Today the Coalition distributed a press release highlighting the achievement of these 16 charter schools. Find the release here.

The N.C. charter schools earning a top-50 spot for 2023-24 were:

  • Raleigh Charter High School, #5
  • Woods Charter School, #9
  • Community School of Davidson, #13
  • Pine Lake Preparatory, #15
  • Gray Stone Day School, #16
  • Lake Norman Charter, #21
  • Research Triangle High School, #22
  • The North Carolina Leadership Academy, #27
  • The Hawbridge School, #37
  • Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, #38
  • Longleaf School of the Arts, #40
  • Triangle Math and Science Academy, #43
  • Franklin Academy, #45
  • Oxford Preparatory School, #46
  • Henderson Collegiate, #47
  • Pinnacle Classical Academy, #49

Six of these schools are Coalition member schools (highlighted in bold).

See the ranking of all N.C. public high schools here. View the charter-only list of top public high schools here.

2023-24 Back-to-school charter facts

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Across the state yesterday, many students headed back to school for the first day of the 2023-24 school year. At a number of public charter schools, students had already begun the year. In honor of the official launch of the 2023-24 school year, the Coalition yesterday distributed a press release with key back-to-school charter facts. Among them:

  • 211 public charter schools are operating in North Carolina this year. This figure includes seven new charter schools.
  • Over the past decade, there has been a 172% increase in public charter school enrollment.
  • In the 2022-23 school year, 77,000 student names were on waitlists for public charter schools. Over 137,000 students attended N.C. charter schools.

The Coalition asked schools to send in 2023-24 applicant/waitlist information in Spring 2023. Some highlights:

In the release, Lindalyn Kakadelis, the executive director of the Coalition, said:

Public charter schools are an incredibly popular choice for North Carolina families, and demand continues to grow. Charter schools are public and free to attend. Through innovative curricula like drone pilot licensing programs, manufacturing certifications, and more, public charter schools offer something different.

Read the Coalition’s back-to-school press release.