Bad charters to face revocationState Board would decide after public hearing
The State Board of Education moved closer Tuesday to adopting regulations giving it authority to put the lowest performing charter schools out of business.
Under the latest (and likely the final) proposal, the Board would consider revoking the charter of a school whose API scores were in the bottom 10 percent of schools statewide two straight years and that had failed to raise its API score at least 50 points over the previous three years. (A charter school would have to have been operating at least five years.)
Revocation wouldn’t be automatic; the charter school could make a case to the Board to justify staying open. The Board would likely exclude dropout-prevention charters serving at-risk teens, for example. But the burden would be on the school to change the Board’s mind.
Most charter schools are overseen by local school boards. The proposed regulations are an acknowledgment that some districts have failed to confront poorly performing schools when renewing their charters.
The State Board, whose members are appointed by the governor, is decidedly pro-charter. Several members agreed that, by holding charters more accountable, the revocation regulations would protect children and strengthen the charter school movement in the long run.
“This is a good start, but just a start,” said Board member Ben Austin. “Reformers need to hold charters to higher standards because they have freedom from the ed code and often aren’t restricted by collective bargaining agreements.”
But Eric Premack, director of the Charter Schools Development Center in Sacramento, disagreed with the notion that accountability has been largely ignored. Without headlines, 200 California charter schools have been revoked or not renewed – “a high kill rate,” he said.
Earlier versions of the proposed regs were more complex. The latest received the endorsement of the California Charter Schools Association and the California School Boards Association, which are usually at odds on charter regulations.
Their representatives did express reservations about a blanket 50-point API growth requirement. Even the lowest decile elementary schools now have API scores of around 700; a 50-point gain for them would be much harder to achieve than a high school with a 550 API score.
But Board President Ted Mitchell assured them that the failure to increase by 50 points in three years simply would put the charters in a pool of schools for possible revocation; a final determination would be made after a public hearing.
The Board could pass the regulations at its next meeting in November.