Selected readings on US charter schools
Pupils in Spring Branch school district’s two ground-breaking charter schools are generally doing well academically compared with pupils across the district, but there is room to grow, according to a recent first-year report.
“We are still building a program that isn’t fully built out,” Superintendent Duncan Klussmann said of the SKY Partnership between the district, KIPP Houston and Yes Prep Public Schools.
Trustees and administrators at a Nov. 11 board workshop discussed the progress of the partnership, as groundwork is being laid for a YES Prep high school program to open at Northbrook High School in the fall of 2015.
The current charter schools are KIPP Courage College Prep at Landrum, which is a program for grades 5-8 within Landrum Middle School, and at YES Prep Northbrook, a program for grades 6-8 within Northbrook Middle School. Because they are new schools, KIPP Courage now only has pupils in grades 5-6; Yes Prep Northbrook only in grades 6-7.
In the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness exam, which measures performance and growth, KIPP Courage fifth-graders as a group performed in the top half of all district elementary schools on the science and math portions of the exam, Mandele Davis, project manager of the SKY partnership, recently told district trustees.
Some 13 percent of KIPP Courage fifth-graders performed at the advanced Level III in reading.
As expected, YES Prep Northbrook sixth-graders outperformed traditional sixth-graders at Northbrook in reading and math. But compared with other district middle schools, YES Prep Northbrook sixth-graders performed under the district average in math and at the district average in reading, Davis said.
On the Measure of Academic Progress, a gauge of academic growth from the fall to the spring semesters administered only to students in the SKY Partnership, more than half of KIPP Courage pupils met or exceeded individual growth targets in reading and math. At YES Prep Northbrook, 60 percent met or exceeded growth goals in reading and math.
In a survey that measures pupil satisfaction and social and emotional well-being, pupils at KIPP Courage and YES Prep Northbrook scored somewhat higher than the average for those at other district schools at the same level, Davis reported.
On that Tripod survey, which also focuses on pupils engagement and teacher practice from a pupil’s perspective, KIPP Courage fifth-graders averaged a score of 73 percent compared with 71 for fifth-grade pupils across the district. YES Prep Northbrook pupils scored 63 percent compared to 58 percent for sixth-graders through the district.
Davis said district administrators are focusing in the Sky Partnership on areas of weakness such as math, while continuing to deliver a rigorous curriculum. She said another area they are working on is to fully integrate KIPP and YES students into their host schools’ cultures.
Now in their second year of operations, the charter schools already are fulfilling the goals for which they were created – to offer more choices, reach low-income students and fill underused campuses.
YES Prep Northbrook has 281 pupils in sixth and seventh grades, while KIPP Courage at Landrum has 204 fifth- and sixth-grade pupils. Landrum’s total enrollment is 950, and Northbrook’s is 911.
Pupils from both programs will feed into the planned YES Prep high school within Northbrook High School.
“This is a long term relationship,” Davis said.
The district is taking applications for the 2014-2015 school year.
To apply to KIPP and YES, visit kipphouston.org/lottery and lottery.yesprep.org
Source: Chron.com – by Annette Baird