DAYTON — Eight of the 10 best performing public schools in the city of Dayton are now charter schools, according to 2009-10 state Report Card data.
Stivers School for the Arts and Dayton Boys Preparatory Academy were the only Dayton Public schools that made the ranking, based on Performance Index score. In past years, the top 10 was split between charter schools and city schools.
Dayton is no longer the nation’s charter school king, having been surpassed years ago by New Orleans and a handful of other cities. But while fewer students are attending Dayton’s charter schools; enrollment dropped from 6,403 in 2006 to 5,228 in 2009; their overall academic performance has improved. Charter advocates say one of the reasons is the worst schools are no longer operating.
“The charters left standing are increasingly higher performing,” said Terry Ryan, vice president for Ohio Programs and Policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Dayton.
The Ohio Department of Education continues to act against poor performing charter schools. Four Dayton charter schools closed this year, and two others are at risk of closing.
Meanwhile, three Richard Allen Academy schools, charters sponsored by Kids Count of Dayton Inc., ranked in the top 10.
Last week, Richard Allen moved one of its schools, Richard Allen Academy II, into a bigger campus.
CEO Jeanette Harris said parents receive report cards just like students.
“They don’t want to receive anything less than a C,” she said. “You can’t ask a child to bring home As and Bs, and you’re getting Ds and Fs.”
Dayton charter schools outperform most district schools, but still face challenges
By Margo Rutledge Kissell Staff Writer
DAYTON — Theodore “T.J.” Wallace was principal of Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in 1989 when it was named a National School of Excellence.
Today, he’s principal of a small charter school in west Dayton in jeopardy of being shut down by the state if it receives a third consecutive Academic Emergency rating on the next state report card.
“That’s not going to happen,” Wallace said Friday as he prepared to dismiss 488 children in kindergarten through eighth grade at the Dayton Leadership Academies’ Dayton Liberty campus.
The school at 4401 Dayton-Liberty Road has a high poverty rate, with 99 percent of the children qualifying for free and reduced lunch.
Wallace, who holds a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Dayton, said he was inspired to make a difference in the lives of the at-risk students after serving as co-researcher of a Thomas B. Fordham Foundation-sponsored study that gleaned lessons from Ohio’s high-performing, high-need urban schools (both district and charter schools).
In June he became principal of the school, which ranks 41st out of 61 Dayton district and charter schools based on its Performance Index score of 68.5 out of 120 possible points.
The school met none of the 26 state standards on the report card, prompting the Ohio Department of Education to notify him by letter two weeks ago that the school is in jeopardy of being closed if it receives an Academic Emergency rating for 2010-11.
Wallace gave his staff a pep talk, encouraging them not to give up.
“I’m just really confident our team is going to make it happen,” he said. “We can definitely reverse the trend, then it’s a matter of continuing to climb.”
Ironically, the school’s sponsor, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, pushed hard for the language in the law to shut down failing charter schools based on poor performance.
“Now the language has come around to impact a school we authorize,” said Terry Ryan, vice president for Ohio Programs and Policy at the Fordham Institute office in Dayton. Still, Ryan said, “We think it’s good language and we support it.”
Wallace noted there are 19 schools below his Dayton Liberty campus on the Performance Index list “and most of them are district schools not subject to that law.”
5 charters statewide must close
The Ohio Legislature in 1997 passed the first law establishing public charter schools, offering choices for families and programming that might be different from local school districts. Today, there are 344 charter schools centered in mostly urban areas with more than 92,000 students.
Based on their failing performance on the latest state report card data, five charter schools in the state must close by the end of next June, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
Nineteen others are in jeopardy, including North Dayton School of Science & Discovery sponsored by the Lucas County Educational Service Center.
There are currently 31 charter schools in Montgomery County. More than a dozen others have closed in the past decade, but Dayton maintains its ranking as the nation’s fifth-largest charter school district, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Dayton’s charter schools outperformed district schools this year based on report card data.
Sixty percent of charter school students attended a school rated as Effective or Continuous Improvement, the equivalent of a B or C, compared to 24 percent of district students, Ryan said. More than 75 percent of district students attended a school rated Academic Watch or Academic Emergency, the equivalent of a D or F, compared to 40 percent of charter school students.
Yet, no student in Dayton attended either a district or charter school rated Excellent or Excellent with Distinction.
An unexpected boost in enrollment
Four Dayton area charter schools have closed, including New City School at 1516 Salem Ave. Lucas County ESC did not renew its sponsorship for financial reasons and because the school failed to meet the student performance requirements.
Two others were Nu Bethel Center of Excellence, an elementary school at 3560 W. Siebenthaler Ave., and Carter G. Woodson Institute, formerly known as Arise Academy, 1 Elizabeth Place, a school for dropouts and other at-risk students ages 16 to 21.
Both schools — subjects of critical state audits — closed June 30, according to resolutions from the schools’ governing authority boards. Their financial troubles and poor academic performance led Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio to not renew sponsorship.
The Ohio Department of Education initiated the closure of the Academy of Dayton for failing to meet performance criteria.
Those closures have led to an unexpected boost this fall in Dayton Public Schools’ enrollment, especially at the high schools.
Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Lori Ward said it caught her off guard to see about 478 new ninth-graders in the district, including about 100 from charters.
The district’s new schools were built on a projected declining enrollment calculation so many are smaller in size, she noted. That can cause a potential problem.
“If we hit a large influx in a grade, we may not have enough building seat space to accommodate those students,” she said.
‘Not performing where we need to be’
Ward, who became the new superintendent on July 1, said district officials are “strategizing” about what they need to do to improve the academic performance of the district, which ranks third worst in the state.
Dayton Public is rated Academic Watch, having met only one of the 26 state standards on the state report card.
Ward said it concerns her the district has only two of the 10 best-performing schools in the city. Last year it had five, with Charity Adams Ear-ley Girls Academy, Horace Mann PreK-8 School and David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center also making the list.
The Performance Index lets districts, buildings and charter schools earn points based on how well each student does on all tested subjects in grades third through eighth and the 10th-grade Ohio Graduation Tests.
In Ward’s view, the larger the Performance Index, “the more effective a system you’re running,” she said, pointing out that district and charter schools can vary widely on enrollment and other demographics, including percentage of special education students.
“What concerns me is we are not performing where we need to be,” Ward said.
She realizes parents making school choices often look at academic performance, and “we have to perform to earn their trust and respect.”
A high score for values being taught
Adell Lawrence graduated from a Dayton Public school, but all six of his grandchildren now go to Dayton charter schools.
The 1975 Wilbur Wright High School graduate said he made the decision to send them to Richard Allen Schools because he liked what he saw with test scores and the values being taught. After the first grandchild performed well in that charter school setting, he said it was a “no-brainer” the others would follow.
Lawrence, 52, said that at this point there’s really nothing — including new district schools — that will make him change his mind and send them to Dayton Public schools instead.
“There’s not a chance they can lure me back,” he said.Tweet