Promising Gains for Washington’s Charter Public School Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2017
Contact: Maggie Meyers at maggie@wacharters.org

Seattle – The Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) today released a summary of statewide test results that indicate compelling rates of proficiency and improvement among systemically underserved students attending Washington’s charter public schools.

“Standardized assessments are just one of many instruments used to measure student achievement, yet they are an important part of the equation that help schools hone in on what is working for the students they serve, and what areas of instruction need more attention,” said WA Charters CEO Patrick D’Amelio. “While there is great work to be done across all public schools in our state, including charter public schools, we are heartened to see very promising growth and proficiency trends among Washington’s charter public school students after just two years of operation.”

Based on Spring 2017 statewide assessment data released by Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), including results of the Smarter Balanced tests in math and English language arts (ELA), charter public schools showed impressive results for low-income students, students of color, and students with special education needs.

Here are some key highlights from Smarter Balanced Math and ELA test results across the state’s charter public schools that administered those tests (three charter public schools do not yet enroll students in tested grade levels), with salient demographic trends noted:

KING COUNTY

RAINIER PREP
View report card here
Local district: Highline
Grades Assessed: 5-7

Rainier Prep serves significantly higher percentage of systemically underserved students, as compared to the state at large.

  • 94% of Rainier Prep’s students are students of color, as compared to 45% of students statewide. 79% of Rainier Prep students receive free or reduced-price lunch, as compared to 43% statewide. And 23% of Rainier Prep students are English Language Learners, as compared to 11% statewide.

Students attending Rainier Prep, in particular Black/African American and Latino students, and students receiving special education services, are outperforming their district and state peers.

  • Among 5th graders at Rainier Prep, 57% of Black/African American students achieved a proficient score in math, as compared to 28% statewide and 28% in the local district.
  • 68% of Black/African American 6th graders and 66% of Latino 6th graders at Rainier Prep achieved a proficient score in math, as compared to 28% proficiency among their Black/African American peers and 30% among their Latino peers statewide.
  • Among 6th graders at Rainier Prep, 63% of Black/African American students and 61% of Latino students achieved a proficient ELA score, as compared to the statewide proficiency rate of 37% for both the respective demographic groups.
  • Among 7th graders at Rainier Prep, 58% of Black/African American students and 54% of Latino students achieved proficiency in ELA, as compared to the statewide proficiency rates of 39% and 42% among their respective peer groups.
  • 6th grade students receiving special education services at Rainier Prep outperformed their district peers by 11.9% in math proficiency.


EXCEL PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL
View report card here
Local district: Kent
Grade levels assessed: 6-8

Excel serves a high percentage of students from systemically underserved communities, and across numerous assessments, students are achieving proficiency at or above the average rate statewide.

  • 64% of Excel’s students are students of color, as compared to the 45% statewide. 31% of students at Excel identify as Black/African American, as compared to 11.7% in the local district and 4.4% across Washington.
  • 7th grade Black/African American students at Excel outperformed their district peers in math by 13.9% and in ELA by 12.2%.
  • 8th grade Black/African American students at Excel outperformed their district peers by 18.9% in ELA.
  • 8th grade Black/African American students outperformed their district peers by 18.5% in math.
  • 8th grade students receiving free or reduced-price lunch outperformed their district peers by 13.9% in ELA.

SPOKANE

PRIDE PREP
View report card here
Local district: Spokane
Grades Assessed: 6-8

PRIDE Prep serves a high percentage of students with special needs, and these students are outperforming their district and state peers.

  • In 2016-17, 18% of PRIDE Prep students received special education services, as compared to 13.8% statewide.
  •  16% of PRIDE’s 6th graders receiving special education services achieved proficiency in math – this is double the rate of proficiency as compared to 6th grade students receiving special education services in the local district.
  •  36% of 7th graders receiving special education services at PRIDE achieved proficiency in math – this is almost triple the state average of 12.6% among students receiving special education services in this grade level.
  • In ELA, 20% of PRIDE’s 7th graders and 27% of 8th graders receiving special education services earned a proficient score, as compared to 19% and 13% for students in these subgroups statewide and in the local district, respectively.
  •  45% of 8th graders receiving special education services at PRIDE achieved proficiency in math – this is quadruple the state and district average for proficiency among 8th grade students receiving special education.

SPOKANE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY
View report card here
Local district: Spokane
Grade levels assessed: 6-7

After two years at SIA, 6th and 7th grade SIA students demonstrate steady growth in math and ELA, with notable levels of proficiency among specific subgroups.

  • 88% of SIA’s 7th graders achieved proficiency on the ELA exam, as compared to the average of 60% for 7th graders statewide.
  • 60% of SIA’s 6th graders identifying as two or more races achieved proficiency in math compared to 49% of students statewide in this subgroup.
  • SIA’s 6th grade students receiving special education services outperformed their district peers by 19.1% on the Smarter Balanced ELA assessment.

TACOMA

GREEN DOT DESTINY MIDDLE SCHOOL
View report card here
Local district: Tacoma
Grades Assessed: 6-7

Many Destiny students enter significantly behind grade level, and have significant learning needs.

  • In 2016-17, 21% of Destiny students received special education services as compared to 14% in the local district and 13.8% statewide. 81% of Destiny students qualified for free and reduced-price lunch, as compared to 58% in the local district and 43% statewide. And 16% of Destiny students were homeless, as compared to 6% in the local district.
  • 74% of 6th graders entered below grade level in reading at Destiny, and 29% of Destiny 6th graders entered as beginning readers – reading at or below a K-2 grade levels – still learning phonics and basic reading skills.
  • In 2016-17, Destiny had 13 students who entered with no reading skills this year (at or below kindergarten level).

While Destiny students enter far behind, they are catching up. 

  • Destiny students grew approximately two grade levels in reading in 2016-17 per the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) assessment.
  • The percentage of Destiny students reading two to six grade levels behind reduced from 42% to 28%.

Background

According to OSPI, 2017 test results show that statewide, significant gaps continue in Washington, mirroring patterns in other states that used Smarter Balanced tests. In ELA, for Washington, only seventh grade saw improvement from 2016. In math, sixth and seventh grade scores improved slightly. State results also show that significant achievement gaps remain between historically higher performing groups and systemically underserved students.

View OSPI’s state report card here.

NOTE: Three charter public schools currently operating in Washington state (Summit Sierra in Seattle, Summit Olympus in Tacoma, and SOAR Academy in Tacoma) do not yet enroll students in grade levels that are required to take the Smarter Balanced tests.

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For thousands of children in Washington State, a high-quality education is out of reach. Washington is home to startling - and increasing - educational inequities for children from low-income communities, children with special needs, and children of color.

We can change this by providing our children with high-quality charter public school options that show what's possible when innovation meets accountability.

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