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Early Achievement Gains Being Made at State’s Public Charter Schools

Data released from several of Washington’s public charter schools is pointing to rapid achievement growth among the state’s 1,100 charter school students. According to the Washington State Charter Schools Association, “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.”

Two key things to note about Washington’s eight public charter schools:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Here are just three examples of strong gains in student achievement at these schools:

  1. On track for one and a half years of growth in reading at Excel: At Excel Public Charter School in Kent, sixth-graders entered, on average, two grade levels behind in reading, while seventh-graders entered, on average, three grade levels behind in reading. Interim assessment data reveals that Excel students are on track to make one and a half years of growth in reading this school year, while students are all simultaneously learning to code and playing an instrument in the school’s orchestra.

  2. Rapid reading gains at Spokane International Academy: At Spokane International Academy (SIA), only two percent of kindergarten and first-grade students entered the school year on track to read at grade level by the end of the school year, according to the Lexia adaptive reading program. Today, more than 60 percent are on track to meet or exceed this goal. Based on the school’s remarkable progress, Lexia selected SIA as a national model of implementation.

  3. One to two years of growth in reading in three months at Destiny: At Destiny Middle School in Tacoma, 80 percent of students started the school year reading below grade level, according to the nationally-normed Scholastic Reading Inventory. In just three months, more than a third of students grew one to two grade levels in reading and met their annual growth goal, surpassing the national average.

Since the start of the year, we have pushed state lawmakers to fix the funding mechanism for public charter schools, which provide options and opportunities for students who have been historically underserved.  Absent legislative action, these schools are in danger of closing. The Senate acted quickly, passing SB 6194 last month. That bill is now with the House Education Committee.

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