- Jeremy P. Kelley Staff Writer
Local charter schools for the second straight year scored higher than Dayton Public Schools in achievement – and widened that gap — but charters were lower in year-over-year progress, according to state report card data released this week.
Report card grades for both groups of schools were low overall. Of 21 local charter schools, the top three earned D’s on the report card’s Achievement component, with the rest getting F’s. In Progress, Dayton Early College Academy and Klepinger School earned A’s, while the rest of the grades were fairly evenly mixed from B to F.
Aaron Churchill, Ohio research director for the Fordham Institute, a charter school sponsor, cited some promising signs of statewide improvement from charter schools. He said in the Dayton area, the performance of struggling district schools and the charters that draw from them continues to be “fairly comparable.”
“We see a lot of fairly low grades with schools like Trotwood-Madison and Dayton Public Schools and the charter schools that are enrolling a significant number of kids from lower-income backgrounds,” Churchill said. “It’s encouraging to see charters a little higher on achievement, but there are all kinds of things that could be behind that.”
Because brick-and-mortar charter schools can only open in “challenged school districts” — Dayton, Trotwood-Madison and Jefferson Twp. locally — this newspaper generally compares local charter school results to the results in those districts.
High and low performers
The report card shows the same two charter schools at the top of the performance index as last year, as Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) and Pathway School of Discovery both showed improvement.
DECA, which serves high school students, had the highest performance index percentage (71.2) of any school in Dayton, and earned A’s in student progress and graduation rate for the second year in a row. DECA Prep, which serves elementary and middle school students, had an eight-point jump in its index.
David Taylor, deputy superintendent for the DECA schools, said the test results validated what school staff saw in classrooms last year, with students getting through more challenging content earlier in the year and engaging in deeper ways.
“Philosophically, our belief is that we serve kids who are just as smart and capable as anybody else,” Taylor said. “We see Oakwood getting an A, and we want to have an A. That means we have to keep our nose down, keep working and finding ways to serve our students to get them there.”
Pathway School’s performance index percent (66.2) rose about four points and was fractions of a point ahead of Dayton Public Schools’ leader, Stivers School for the Arts. Pathway got C’s in both progress and K-3 literacy improvement.
Pathway’s two sister schools in the National Heritage Academies chain – Emerson and North Dayton School of Discovery – saw slight declines in their scores, but Emerson still remained in the area’s top five.
“We are very pleased with the increased performance at Pathway (and) both Emerson and North Dayton performed well against local schools,” said NHA spokeswoman Katie Baker. “We will continue to work with all schools in an effort to improve student academic performance.”
The lowest-scoring local charter school for performance index was Summit Academy Transition High School in Dayton, with a percentage of 37.0. That school was one of five local charters to score all F’s and one D on the report card – Summit, STEAM Academy, Trotwood Prep & Fitness, Richard Allen Academy II and Dayton Leadership Academies’ Dayton View campus.
Summit High School officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
The 21 local charter schools had a higher median performance index (48.3) than the 33 Dayton, Trotwood and Jefferson district schools (42.7). The charters had the two highest performers — DECA and Pathway — while Dayton had the seven lowest scoring schools.
But in student growth, more than half of the district schools (18 of 33) earned an “A” or a “B”, while only one-third of the charter schools did.
“DPS is proud of its academic growth scores,” Dayton Superintendent Rhonda Corr said. “Our children are growing scholastically at a faster rate because of our one-to-one technology and the individualized, personalized instruction from our high-quality staff.”
Online and STEM schools
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, a large online school embroiled in legal disputes with the state, posted a performance index of 45.9, matching the mark of Trotwood-Madison, which was the lowest scoring school district in the state.
The state’s other two largest online schools fared slightly better. Ohio Connections Academy posted a 64.7 performance index that would fall just behind the Dayton area’s top two charter schools. Ohio Virtual Academy’s score was 60.1, also good for a “D” and ahead of all of DPS schools other than Stivers.
Ohio Connections was the only one of those three online giants to avoid an “F” in student progress, notching a “D.” All of the online schools got F’s in graduation rate, ranging from Ohio Connections’ 67.6 rate to ECOT’s 40.3.
The Dayton Regional STEM School continued its trend of strong report cards, earning a “B” in achievement, with an 85.2 performance index percentage that ranked behind only Oakwood, Waynesville and Bellbrook locally. The STEM School also earned A’s in student progress, graduation rate and the prepared for success measure.