New data demonstrate public charter school success in improving student achievement

Policymakers in Olympia will want to take notice of good news released by the Washington State Charter Schools Association

Data released this week from several of Washington’s public charter schools reveals that the new schools are helping students make rapid improvements and working to close historic racial and income-based achievement gaps. Mid-year testing results indicate significant gains for students across multiple schools in both reading and math and show that many students previously performing behind national averages are now on track to meet grade-level standards.

The entire release is worth your attention and worth sharing with legislators, neighbors and friends interested in expanding opportunities for high quality public education. It’s important to remember that the state’s public charter schools are educating students who have often struggled in traditional public schools.

  • Serving historically underserved populations: More than 70 percent of students attending public charter schools in Washington are students of color and more than two-thirds come from low-income households.
  • Most public charter school students started behind: Per baseline assessment data, a majority of students currently enrolled in the nine schools that started the 2015-16 school year designated as public charter schools entered performing below grade level.

Also, Dan Calzaretta, director of Willow Public School in Walla Walla, writes in the Union-Bulletin of how that public charter school is serving the community. Again, his commentary should be read and shared. An excerpt:

As a seasoned Walla Walla public school educator, I know that while we have many excellent teachers and programs in our community, a one-size-fits-all approach to education does not work for all students. Ensuring that no student gets left behind is one of the great social justice imperatives of our time…

I urge our state’s lawmakers to consider this question: What greater cause could a community have than that of providing an excellent education to our children, regardless of where they live, their family income, or their background?

Legislators have the duty and the opportunity to be heroes for Washington students, by honoring the will of the voters and passing a fix to the public charter school law so that all families have access to additional public education choices.

Well said.