Pencader Charter Decision: State Board Sets Standard

February 22nd, 2013

Category: News

At the State Board of Education committee meeting on February 21st, Secretary Murphy recommended revocation of the charter of Pencader Charter Business and Finance School.  The State Board unanimously voted to enact his decision, which will close the school at the end of this academic year.  The Department of Education will host meetings with students and their families to address the transition to other schools in Delaware.  The closing of Pencader Charter is understandably difficult and emotional for students, teachers, and the entire school community. Yet, this act was a bold and necessary step toward improving the quality of all charter schools in Delaware.  This event warrants another look at the upcoming performance frameworks for charter schools in Delaware.

Charter schools offer school leaders greater flexibility to utilize innovative models and operate with autonomy, but with that opportunity comes increased responsibility.  Serving students with high-quality choice options is the ultimate goal.  With that in mind, the State Board of Education, the Delaware Department of Education, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and charter school advocates proposed charter school performance frameworks, which the State Board of Education approved in September.

As detailed on our blog this past July, the three frameworks will focus on:

  • Academic, including DCAS proficiency, growth-to-proficiency (a new measure assessing on track to proficiency within three years or by 10th grade), and SAT and graduation rates for high schools. Each category will receive a score (exceeds, meets, does not meet, far below).
  • Organizational, including mission, governance, whether or not they meet the needs of students, and their staffing information. Each category will be determined meets or does not meet.
  • Financial, including near and long-term metrics, such as debt-to-cash ratios, cash flow, and total margin. Each category will be determined meets or does not meet.

Beginning this summer, DCAS data will be used to weigh decisions regarding charter authorizations and renewals.  These frameworks will be a clear determination on how Delaware’s charter schools are serving our state’s children.  It is important to stress the necessity of high-quality and accountability in all schools so that we can ensure children are being served at the highest standard.

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Melissa Hopkins