The California Charter Schools Association called Thursday for the closure of a West Sacramento charter school that is run by UC Davis, Sacramento City College and the Washington Unified School District.Ever hear of anyone in the education establishment making calls to shut down low-performing public schools? Me, either.
West Sacramento Early College Prep, which served 119 students last school year, is among the worst-performing campuses in the state based on standardized tests.
While the statewide organization is a champion of charter schools, it believes that calling for the closure of struggling programs demonstrates that charter schools are willing to be held accountable, said CCSA President Jed Wallace...
The West Sacramento school is one of six charters that CCSA has identified; the others are in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Rosa, Antioch and Delano.
The funny thing is, one could argue that perhaps this school is doing fine given its population, that its "value-added" is significant. To argue that, and to counter that argument, would require the usual sides to reverse their usual positions!
No matter how you look at it, though, the performance of the students at this school is among the worst in the state. It ranks in the bottom 15 schools in a 4-county region. They may be doing wonderful things at that school, but there's no empirical evidence for such a belief. And the excuse they gave was a classic:
Levine says students at the school don’t fare well on the state’s standardized tests, known as STAR tests, because they aren’t aligned to “the way we want them to think.” He said the school adopted project-based learning in 2008 that is more closely aligned with the new Common Core State Standards curriculum that California students will begin to be tested for in 2014.Isn't that beautiful? I'm told that Common Core will boost students' academic thinking beyond mere regurgitation of facts, that they'll understand the material on a deeper level. If this school is teaching its students to operate that way, wouldn't those students perform even better on the STAR tests, which supposedly ask for only a cursory, fill-in-the-blank-style understanding?
The dean noted that California students are no longer taking STAR tests. He questioned why the charter association is using an “outmoded” measure to decide if a school is performing well academically.
I'm no fan of the Common Core standards or of the effort to use them to impose so-called discovery learning or any other educational fad on us, but even CC supporters must concede that using CC standards to excuse and explain low performance is a harsh indictment indeed.
But here's the fun part: this school is run with input from the University of California, Davis. A UC campus. If this school is the best those eggheads can come up with, how much confidence should we taxpayers have in that university's school of education? Why should prospective teachers pay to attend a UC program with such results?
Will the California Charter Schools Association's proposal lead to any introspection on the part of the movers and shakers at Davis? Sadly, I wouldn't bet on it. They're ideologues, evidence means nothing to them.