Friday, February 13, 2015

Charter schools got letter grades, too. Did they outperform CMS?

Even though all the attention was on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools when letter grades were handed out to each campus in North Carolina last week, charter schools got letter grades, too.

The results? It's very close (and probably debatable), but CMS appears to have done better than the county's charters.

(Go ahead and scroll to the bottom of this post if you want to look up your Mecklenburg County charter school's grade. Look up any school in the state here.)

Here's the grade distribution for Mecklenburg County charter schools:

  • Four schools earned an A (27 percent)
  • Two schools earned a B (13 percent)
  • Three schools earned a C (20 percent)
  • Four schools earned a D (27 percent)
  • Two schools earned an F (13 percent)
CMS had 41 percent of its schools earn grades of A or B. That's one percentage point higher than the county's charter schools. A larger percentage of the county's charters also earned failing grades (7 percent in CMS).

Of course, there's a much larger percentage of "A" charter schools in the county than in CMS (27 percent versus 11 percent). Another caveat: Since there are a lot fewer charter schools in the county, that also can throw off the percentages.

Here's the grade distribution for charter schools statewide:
  • 13 schools earned an A (10 percent)
  • 37 schools earned a B (30 percent)
  • 35 schools earned a C (28 percent)
  • 22 schools earned a D (18 percent)
  • 17 schools earned an F (14 percent)
Charter schools did much better than the state as a whole. Statewide, only 29 percent earned an A or a B.

I haven't heard much about this yet, but these figures are sure to reinflame debate on whether this charter school boom in the state is serving students well.

Here's the grade for every Mecklenburg County charter school. New schools don't have grades because they're based on last year's end-of-grade test scores.

School NameOverall gradeOverall scoreReading gradeMath gradeGrowth targets
Aristotle Preparatory AcademyD50CFMet
Charlotte Choice CharterF34FFMet
Charlotte SecondaryC63CCMet
Community School of DavidsonA87BBExceeded
Corvian Community SchoolB78BBMet
Crossroads Charter HighF35NotMet
Invest CollegiateC63BDMet
Kennedy CharterD45DFExceeded
KIPP CharlotteD54DDExceeded
Lake Norman CharterA88BBExceeded
Metrolina Reg Scholars AcademyA94AAMet
Queen's Grant Community SchoolB75BBExceeded
Socrates AcademyA85BBMet
Sugar Creek CharterC60CCExceeded
The Community Charter SchoolD40DFNotMet


Anonymous said...

Queens Grant scored lower than Independence and Butler High, the two schools it is closest to.

Anonymous said...

FYI many charters are now getting flooded with all the bad rejects kicked out of public schools. Conspiracy to even things out? What about a break down of demographics grades and test scores in both charters and publics by
race and socioeconomic status?

Anonymous said...

Andrew, you said "CMS appears to have done better than the county's charters." Who told you that? Is this really the conclusion you can draw? The data you've cited tells us very little. Charter schools that serve low income kids tend to do poorly on the state's letter grade system. Charter schools that serve middle and upper income kids tend to do well. The same is true at CMS.

You could more easily draw the conclusion from the test data that charter enrollment is more skewed towards lower income kids. Just look at KIPP, Kennedy Charter, etc. They're exceeding growth targets, but they get terrible letter grades because of the low income populations they serve.

It seems like you're making the data tell a story that you want to tell.

Anonymous said...

This is an incomplete list of Charter Schools for the Charlotte Metro region.It would seem that Andrew selective chose schools to reinforce his skewed perspective. In a previous Charlotte Observer report, both the Community School of Davidson and Lake Norman Charter SAT scores were among the highest SAT scores of all schools in Charlotte. The SAT only measures reading and math. So, I would tend to believe a national standard like the SAT over a "B" grade from the state.

Andrew Dunn said...

Anon 8:50, these are just the schools in Mecklenburg County.

Anonymous said...

The Washington Post recently had a list of the tip 1000 schools in the country, only 3 from our area made the list. Weddington HS, Cato Middle school and Graystone charter.

Anonymous said...

Charter Schools did much better than district schools statewide. Each charter school is managed differently with a different model. Some have an excellent management model-or a public-private partnership such as Queen's Grant K-8. In this case, the private EMO assumes all financial risk-not the taxpayers. This allows us to see which management models are excellent and successful in improving student learning- and which ones are not-because they will fail and close. District schools that are not successfully educating students- continue to operate with taxpayer dollars year after year. Charter schools give families a choice of a public district or charter school. Queen's Grant Community School is K-8 only and is partnered with NHA. Each year it has EXCEEDED growth in student learning expectations. In 2013-14 it's letter grade is a B-which is higher than Crown Point, Mint Hill Middle, Piney Grove and Lebanon Rd. Queen's Grant High School does not partner with NHA.

Anonymous said...

Correction: Its Metro-Charlotte region.

(Its also UNC-Charlotte 49ers)

Anonymous said...

I love all the comments from parents who need some sort of validation for choosing charter for their kids. It's so cute!

John said...

Not nearly enough information to draw any conclusions. What is the relative cost per student for each school, CMS, County, State for each grade? That's just one other question! A single percentage point difference in score would sound a lot less impressive if the cost per student is, say, 30% more or something like that. I'm not saying that's the case, just pointing out that this doesn't tell us that!

Anonymous said...

The charter school network I'm a part of (TeamCFA) had grades that ranged from A - D. Not surprisingly, there appears to be a direct correlation between grades and poverty that charter schools haven't miraculously overcome anymore than their traditional counterparts which is highly disappointing. Our neighboring traditional public schools received the same letter grade we did indicating that schools really are a reflection of the community of people they serve. My predominately white school is located in a rural area of NC.

My school received a C - one point away from a B. My homeroom class has students in foster care, students with parents in jail, students with parents they've never seen, students with parents who have died drinking alcohol, students with parents who don't pack them lunch (we have no cafeteria), students with step parents who beat them, students with parents who live in campers, students with disabilities and students who have been in multiple traditional public schools before reaching my homeroom where I'm expected to have everyone performing at or above grade level which I can't because I'm not God.

It's frustrating.

The courage to teach...


Cornelia said...

Truth is: Demographics seem to be the one factor that determines how schools--charter and public--perform. It seems that no educator knows the secret to getting students from a culture of poverty to perform. It's been labeled "generational poverty" or "generational educational failure" and no one knows how to break ii

It is not about race, since the children of successful parents of all races tend to be successful and vice versa, with too few exceptions. It doesn't apoear to be about money spent on education either. It seems to be more about values and choices passed on from generation to generation. It is nearly impossible for outsiders to change cultural norms.

Anonymous said...

If a charter school is doing poorly, parents can elect to remove their child. If there are no charter school options, parents without financial resources have no choice over where their children go to school even if that public school is failing.

Anonymous said...


My charter school operates on significantly less money than our neighboring traditional public schools that also received a C from the state (one school received a D) so it isn't about per-pupil spending nor is it about race. My charter school network uses the same curriculum, hires teachers with like qualifications, compensates teachers on the NC state scale, operates individual schools on a similar budget, has the same national governing board and yet our scores ranged from an A to a D.

Cornelia is right.


Larry said...

Well then move those kids back to CMS and of course they will require about 10 or so new schools, all paid by our taxes and be approved by bonds. Note this does not show up in CMS's budget.

Then more buses will be needed, all paid by our taxes to the State, oh and this does not show up in CMS's budget.

And then that pesky 70 cents on a dollar the taxpayers paid to the charter schools over the systems like CMS is going to cost us 30 cents more which will add millions every year.

But since the Charter Schools can not do a superior job over CMS with 70 cents on the dollar, no public transportation, and still pay for their buildings, and can only show us somewhat the same results as CMS, then we should be paying for for the same thing at CMS, after all it is our millions in taxes.

Closing them would make so many people happy knowing that government is taking care of all children, and teaching them just what the government knows they need to know.

Anonymous said...

BS... Public schools are constantly getting students back from charters that can't handle them. It is almost impossible to kick a student out of public school.

Anonymous said...

You sound like a public school teacher..

Anonymous said...

It's demographics... Everything else is just semantics. I rode a school bus and so does my child. I played sports for my local school. Why wouldn't I want these opportunities for my child?

Anonymous said...

Where should it be for?

Wiley Coyote said...


Not being able to kick a kid out of CMS is a big part of the problem.

Shamash said...

I think they're really just grading the parents, not the schools.

But that's OK.

And probably as it should be.

Anonymous said...

Agreed!!!! You can't even suspended them anymore..

Anonymous said...

11:35 AM

Well, in my rural NC part of the woods, you have a "choice" between a C traditional public school (with a shiny yellow bus) or a C public charter school (with a discarded yellow-ish bus from Wake County).

You decide.


Anonymous said...

well, I guess these numbers confirm what many of us thought all along. Poor kids, especially poor African American children struggle in both the traditional charter schools. If there was any doubt, this report just removed it. Charters are not any better at educating children!

Now, whether we want to admit something else about charters is another matter. Perhaps I am mistaken, but it appears to me that charter schools, whether intended or not, bring together children of a similar demographic. The successful charters are generally located in affluent areas and do not serve disadvantaged children. Whereas the charters that did not perform very well serve mostly poor children and minorities. The same could be said of traditional public schools, imagine that!

Anonymous said...


These "school" letter grades are a misnomer, and should more accurately be called "school aggregate student grades".

This would more accurately reflect what everyone is stating in response to this blog, and that the school's demographic makeup has much more to do with a school's overall success than the teachers and administrators associated with the school.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather my child be on a new bus... Safer... What is the corporate liberal brain trust going to do now? I don't mind charters and I think private schools should receive funding. Money should go with the student. I believe in choice but at no point did I think charters are going to solve the problem. I knew demographics would decide school success. Charters are not new!!!!

Anonymous said...

8:31 and 5:05

Joyful, Joyful! Oh, Happy Day!

And now what? As your child and my child boards the shiny "A" bus?


The Courage to be Pissed Off.

Anonymous said...

Now that we've concluded that public charter schools perform generally the same as their apple-to-apple traditional public school counterparts on significantly less money and with significantly less resources, perhaps we can now move our attention to the futileness of putting expensive STEM "magnet" programs at D and F schools that have no hope of attracting diversity while putting an end to another multi-million dollar round of experiments in west Charlotte.

We keep expecting change to come externally when it has to come internally. No amount of money, resources or teachers from Harvard can fix a cultural mindset that doesn't see education as a means to a better life.

The best I can do as a public school teacher (traditional or charter) is to show up everyday, be kind to my kids, provide structure in the classroom, hold my students accountable, have my lessons prepared, be able to improvise and switch gears when nothing seems to be working, communicate effectively with supportive, helicopter, absent and pain-in-the-ass parents, keep up with current educational trends that are and aren't successful, contribute who I am beyond the curriculum, speak up and honor my principles when I need to, encourage and hold up my cohorts in the light, and then get on my hands and knees to thank God for entrusting me with an awesome, meaningful and purposeful job that truly matters in the world.


Anonymous said...

CMS should be thanking me for paying my taxes, and sending my two kids to local private schools. You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

This might be one of the most profound statements you have ever made on this blog, and one that I happen to agree with. Wiley made a very similar comment a few weeks ago.

"We keep expecting change to come externally when it has to come internally. No amount of money, resources or teachers from Harvard can fix a cultural mindset that doesn't see education as a means to a better life."


Anonymous said...

Your right.. That's all you can do. Fight the good fight. School are not a cure. They are a symptom. We need to study students who succeeded in life that come from failing neighbor hoods and schools. The socialist mind set that government or schools can solve the problem is flawed.

Anonymous said...

Queens Grant Charter High School might of scored a B on standardized exams, but scores an F (0) when it comes to being diverse. Racist Administration and Board of Education.