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As reported before, billionaire Eli Broad plans to bundle $490 million to open 260 new charter schools for half the public school students in Los Angeles.
But according to the usually pro-charter LA School Report, Broad’s current charter schools have a mixed record.
“The Broad plan points to three of LA Unified’s largest charter operators that have received Broad largess — Green Dot Public Schools, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools and KIPP Public Charter Schools — and says, “These organizations have turned our investments into significant academic gains for students.”
In some cases, the gains are clear, but in others they are not. One category shows a regression in test scores, and others that demonstrate only marginal gains….
“Over five years, proficiency rates for Green Dot students in English language arts actually decreased by 3 percent, while math rates at Alliance middle schools improved a total of 1 percent and English rates at the Alliance middle schools improved a total of 5 percent over five years.
Other areas are impressive — a 20 percent gain in English proficiency for KIPP schools over four years and a 13 percent increase in math for Green Dot schools, but the report does not discuss or examine the negative and minimal gains.
“The recent Smarter Balanced statewide tests, which this year replaced the STAR exams after two years without any statewide tests, also show impressive results for the three organizations, but they also raised questions. (The Broad report did not include any analysis of the Smarter Balanced tests.)
“Key in any analysis is the number of English learners and low-income students — two groups that have proven to be among the most challenging to educate — and these numbers never match up quite evenly between charters and traditional schools.
“An analysis by LA School Report shows Alliance schools had 45.4 percent of its students meeting or exceeding the English standards on the Smarter Balanced tests, compared with 33 percent at LA Unified’s schools.
However, Alliance has far fewer English learners. According to its website data, 18.83 percent of its students are English learners, compared with 26 percent for LA Unified. And Alliance students actually scored worse in math, with 23.5 percent meeting or exceeding standards compared with 25 percent for the district. In fairness to Alliance, its schools have 93 percent of its students qualifying for free or reduced price lunch, compared with 77 percent for the district.”