Friday, December 03, 2010

Charter schools passing test of time

A Boston Globe story about the rise of charter schools in MA, with a nice mention of the exceptional KIPP Lynn:

The latest numbers released by the state reveal a trend of mostly urban families embracing charter schools. Across the Commonwealth, charter school enrollment more than doubled in the last decade, rising from 12,518 to 27,484 this year.

During the last 10 years, seven of the top 10 enrollment percentage increases have been in charter schools. During that time, six new charter schools have been established, bringing their total to 17 in the region.

…The state earlier this year passed legislation that would double the number of charter school students in the lowest-performing school districts. In February the newest group of charters — which now total 63 — will be announced. Proposed schools in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lynn, and Salem are being considered.

Earlier this week, workers broke ground on a new $26 million school that KIPP Academy Lynn plans to complete in July 2012. KIPP, which opened as a middle school in 2004, is adding a high school that will open next fall. The school has also applied for an additional charter to add grades K-4. The school opened with 81 fifth-graders seven years ago; enrollment reached 352 by the 2009-2010 school year.

KIPP's student population and academic achievement refutes arguments from some educators who have accused charter schools of choosing elite students, said Josh Zoia, the school's executive director

"We're not skimming,'' he said. "What we're doing is the opposite of skimming. We're working with some of the most challenging students.''

Zoia said the school has a retention rate of 97.2 percent, which ranks highest among charter schools in the state.

More than 80 percent of KIPP's students are minority, more than 80 percent live at or below the poverty line, and more than 90 percent come from single-parent households, according to Zoia. On average, when they enroll at the school, students perform two grades below their age level, he said. Still, the school's philosophy of structure, discipline, 10-hour days, 11-month calendar years, and policy of making sure that every perk — from recess to attending school trips — is earned has delivered academic scores that consistently outperform other schools in Lynn. In 2009, the school was ranked 12th out of 466 middle schools across the state for its seventh-grade math MCAS scores, Zoia said.


Charter schools passing test of time

Acceptance rises, enrollments swell as parents search for new options, different models

The charter school Innovation Academy is set on a 200-acre campus in Tyngsborough. (Mark Wilson for The Boston Globe)

By Steven Rosenberg

Globe Staff / November 18, 2010

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