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Florida Public Charter Schools to Celebrate National Charter Schools Week May 12 to May 18, 2019

Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) Member Schools Expected to Participate in Celebration

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., (April 25, 2019) – Many of Florida’s more than 650 public charter schools are expected to participate in this year’s National Charter Schools Week celebration, slated for May 12 to May 18, 2019.  National Charter Schools Week is an official program of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, based in Washington, D.C.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Charter Schools Are,” according to information posted on the website of the National Alliance, which notes, “This special celebration is a time for everyone in the (charter schools) movement – leaders, teachers, students, parents and advocates – to come together to showcase our schools and students.”

For 2019, each weekday during National Charter Schools Week is focused on a different core group of charter school participants, according to the National Alliance.  Monday is focused on charter school leaders, Tuesday is about charter school teachers, elected officials are recognized on Wednesday, the primary focus Thursday is on charter school supporters and advocates, while Friday embraces students and alumni of charter schools.

Many of Florida’s public charter schools have been active participants in National Charter Schools Week during past years, according to the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools.

“The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools encourages our member schools to once again take part in this year’s celebration, in order to showcase their educational accomplishments and increase awareness and understanding of Florida’s public charter schools,” said Robert Haag, President of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools.  “This is a great opportunity to increase visibility and recognition of public charter schools in our state.

For more information about National Charter Schools Week, visit the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools website at https://www.publiccharters.org/what-you-can-do/celebrate-national-charter-schools-week.

About the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) is the leading charter school membership association in the state, with a membership of nearly 75 percent of all operating charter schools.  Since its inception in 1999, FCPCS has been dedicated to creating a national model of high quality, accredited public charter schools that are student-centered and performance-driven.  FCPCS provides a wide array of technical support, mentoring, training, networking, and purchasing services to its membership, as well as serving as an advocate for all Florida public charter schools.

 

Charter School Enrollment Numbers for Miami-Dade and Broward Rank in Top 10 Among School Systems Nationally, According to National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) Notes Continued Impact of Charter School Enrollment in Two of the Nation's Largest School Systems

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., (April 16, 2019) – Charter school enrollment numbers for the school districts in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties place them among the top ten nationally of all school systems, according to a report published earlier this year by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The 65,289 students enrolled in Miami-Dade County charter schools is enough for Miami-Dade County Public Schools to be ranked third in the nation for charter school enrollment, behind only the Los Angeles Unified School District, with 163,575 students enrolled in charter schools, and the New York City Department of Education, with 111,805 students enrolled in charter schools.

Broward County charter schools held the eighth spot, nationally, with 46,478 students enrolled in public charter schools in the Broward County School District.  Ranked above number eight Broward were Philadelphia (4), Chicago (5), Houston (6) and Orleans Parish (7).

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools collected public school enrollment data from the 2017-2018 school year to identify communities across the country where the highest proportion of students were enrolled in charter schools.  2019 is the thirteenth year the report has been published.

The Miami-Dade and Broward school systems were closely ranked in terms of the percentage of students attending public charter schools.  In Miami-Dade, 18 percent of students were enrolled in public charter schools, or 65,289 students out of a total system enrollment of 354,515.  In Broward, it was 17 percent, or 46,478 of 272,271.  By comparison, the top 20 school systems in the nation, ranked by percentage of students attending charter schools, were all listed at 30 percent or more.

"Florida is a national leader in charter school enrollment and a pivotal force behind the charter school movement," said Robert Haag, President of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools.  “It is gratifying to see the rankings of both the Miami-Dade and Broward school systems."

The full 2017-2018 report, entitled "A Growing Movement; America's Largest Charter Public School Communities, can be viewed or downloaded at: https://www.publiccharters.org/our-work/publications/growing-movement-americas-largest-charter-public-school-communities-thirteenth-edition

About the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) is the leading charter school membership association in the state, with a membership of nearly 75 percent of all operating charter schools.  Since its inception in 1999, FCPCS has been dedicated to creating a national model of high quality, accredited public charter schools that are student-centered and performance-driven.  FCPCS provides a wide array of technical support, mentoring, training, networking, and purchasing services to its membership, as well as serving as an advocate for all Florida public charter schools.

 

Charters are successful because they are different

Re-posted from an op ed column dated April 1, 2019 in the Gainesville Sun

By Kay Abbitt

Charter schools in Florida are a hot topic these days. Most of the people who complain about charter schools have no real experience with charter schools. These detractors tend to rely on one-sided reporting to get their information, resulting in inaccurate bits of information being repeated and perpetuating stereotypes about charter schools.

I feel qualified to write on this topic as I am the director and co-founder of Boulware Springs Charter. Hopefully, this column will counter some of the misconceptions, in addition to providing data from the Florida Department of Education’s annual report on charter school performance released March 25.

One misconception is that charter schools “hand pick” their students. Charter schools by law must accept all who apply as long as space is available. If there is no space, students are selected by a lottery.

Boulware is located in northeast Gainesville close to Rawlings and Metcalfe elementary schools. Eighty-six percent of Boulware’s students are considered economically disadvantaged, similar to Rawlings and Metcalfe.

According to the FLDOE report, 54.9 percent of students in all Florida charter schools are economically disadvantaged as compared to 65 percent in traditional public schools. The difference in these numbers is small. In comparisons of achievement and learning gains, economically disadvantaged students in charter schools performed better than their counterparts in traditional schools in 93 percent of the comparisons.

Another argument against charter schools is that there is no accountability. Financially, there are overwhelming amounts of accountability by charters to both the school district and state.

Monthly, charter schools are required to submit to their district the previous month’s financial report prepared by an accountant. Annually, every district department — from human resources to curriculum to building safety — monitor each charter school to ensure that they are operating within state guidelines. Each charter school is required to pay 5 percent (approximately $53,000 for Boulware) of their state funding to the district for this monitoring.

Charter schools are also accountable to the state for their students’ scores on Florida Standards Assessment testing. Charter schools must follow the same guidelines for testing and are subject to the same penalties for low school grades. Charter schools are doing amazingly well as compared to traditional public schools with regards to educating students.

The FLDOE reported:

• Eighty-two percent of students enrolled in charter schools demonstrated higher rates of grade level performance than their peers in traditional public schools.

• When comparing learning gains, the percentage of students making learning gains was higher in charter schools in 88 of the 96 (91.7 percent) comparisons.

• Forty-seven percent of the charter schools earned an “A” school grade compared to 28 percent of traditional schools

• When comparing achievement and learning gains of African-American students, those in charter schools performed better in 89 percent of the comparisons.

• When comparing achievement and learning gains of Hispanic students, those in charter schools performed better in 93 percent of the comparisons.

In 2016-2017, Boulware Springs Charter was ranked No. 5 out of 3,239 Florida public schools (both traditional and charter) for reading gains. In math, we were ranked No. 51 out of 3,241 Florida public schools for gains.

Recently, at the Superintendent’s Math challenge at Buchholz High School, our fourth and fifth grade students did very well. Our teams won first place in two of the top four brackets beating all other traditional elementary schools. Our other team won second place in the lower bracket. The fact that we are an east Gainesville Title 1 charter school without a magnet program makes this accomplishment even more amazing.

All charter schools in Florida are 501c3 organizations, which are nonprofits. There are no “for profit” charters. If there are larger charter organizations that have charter management companies with some questionable practices, it is imperative that the state monitor these organizations closely to ensure that funding is being managed properly. No educational system is perfect, but data are showing that something has to change with the current educational system we have.

Charters are successful because they are different. Boulware has two extra hours in our school day. These two extra hours gives us time for extra reading and math instruction for struggling students. Our students also attend school year-round.

The status quo in our traditional schools isn’t working. The more knowledgeable everyone is about other educational options (such as charters) will mean better decisions can be made, and there will be a greater likelihood that children will get the education they deserve.

Kay Abbitt is director of Boulware Springs Charter.

 

 

Dear Florida Families, Your Kid’s Probably Better Off in A Charter School

Re-posted from an op ed column published March 25, 2019 in The Capitolist, Tallahassee

by Lane Wright

Are you a parent with kids in school? If so, you should know that charter schools in Florida outperform traditional schools in just about everything you can measure.

Each year, our state’s education department is required by law to look at how charter school students perform compared to similar students in traditional schools. They look at a ton of data: How do black students in charters compare to black students in traditional schools in English. What about Hispanic students? Low-income students? Students with disabilities? English language learners? Okay, what about all those groups of students (and more) in Math? Social studies? Science?

They also look at the difference in academic performance (AKA Achievement Gap) between groups like black students and their white peers, or Hispanic students and white students, etc. Finally, they looked at how much students were learning each year.

In just about everything they measured, charter school students came out on top!

Of 77 measurements related to students performing on grade level, charter school students did better in 63 of those comparisons, or 82 percent of the time.

When it came to the achievement gap, charter schools bested traditional schools in 19 out of the 22 comparisons the department looked at. For example, the gaps between black and white students in math, reading, science and social studies would count as 4 comparisons. Traditional schools did better closing the achievement gap in three of the comparisons. They did slightly better than charter schools in closing the gap between black and white students in high school math and science for example, but not in elementary or middle school for those students in those subjects.

When they looked at how much schools helped students, and various groups of students catch up or get ahead, charter school students learned more in a year than traditional schools on 88 of the 96 measures they compared.

Overall, charter schools do a better job of helping students achieve, closing the achievement gaps between groups of students, and helping students grow, academically, more than traditional schools.

Does that mean you should abandon your traditional school as quickly as possible? Not necessarily. These comparisons are comparing all charter schools to all traditional schools. Individual results may vary, as they say. You should really look at the particulars for the schools around you.

For my family, the school we were zoned for wasn’t a good fit. I wasn’t satisfied with the results they were getting for kids. So we applied and were blessed to win the lottery for one of the charter schools we sought out.

There’s something else to consider. While charter schools won in almost every category measured, the margins by which they won range from just one percentage point to about 13 percentage points. That’s still significant but it also shows there’s still a lot of work to be done at both types of schools.

For example, one of the nearly 200 measures they looked at showed that about 54 percent of lower-income charter school kids in elementary school passed their reading test compared to 46.4 percent of the same type of students in traditional schools. 53.9 Percent is definitely better than 46.4 percent, but there are still a ton of students that need help reaching that bar.

If you’re really into charts, there’s a whole slew of them in the Student Achievement in Florida’s Charter Schools report the department put out today.

In a press release, Richard Corcoran, Florida’s chief educator, praised the results and signaled the impact the report may have in current legislative battles:

“There is simply no denying that choice works, particularly for minority and low-income students. These results represent hundreds of thousands of Florida families who were empowered to make the best education decisions for their children and are reaping the benefits. Governor DeSantis has made bold choice-related proposals leading into the 2019 Legislative Session, and this report provides further evidence that they are right for Florida.”

Regardless of the choice you make, it’s clear that charter schools give a lot of families, especially those stuck in low-performing schools, a better alternative than they had available. And ultimately, it’s the state’s job to give as many families access to a great education as possible.

 

 

Victoriano Rodriguez of International Studies Charter School Receives Principal Leadership Award from Florida TaxWatch

Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools congratulates Rodriguez on his achievement

MIAMI, Fla., (March 26, 2019) – International Studies Charter School Principal Victoriano Rodriguez has received the prestigious Principal Leadership Award from Florida TaxWatch, an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit research institute and government watchdog organization.

The Principal Leadership Awards recognize Florida’s most effective principals in high-risk K-12 public schools.  Rodriguez was one of three Florida high school principals to receive the Florida TaxWatch award.  The award program was established in 2014 and is driven by student performance data, which is analyzed over consecutive years.

“Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools congratulates Rodriguez for this well-deserved recognition,” said FCPCS President Robert Haag.  “International Studies Charter School is one of many FCPCS member schools where innovative education is improving student lives and reshaping their futures.”

About the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) is the leading charter school membership association in the state, with a membership of nearly 75 percent of all operating charter schools.  Since its inception in 1999, FCPCS has been dedicated to creating a national model of high quality, accredited public charter schools that are student-centered and performance-driven.  FCPCS provides a wide array of technical support, mentoring, training, networking, and purchasing services to its membership, as well as serving as an advocate for all Florida public charter schools.

 
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