Sunday, September 15, 2013

CCSD's Using On-Line Charters to Improve Dropout Statistics

Remember when the Charleston County School District was caught transferring students slated for expulsion elsewhere to Burke High/Middle? Some of us have long memories. We can also remember the hoops Superintendent McGinley has gone through to make district statistics look good, such as claiming a lower percentage of failing schools after closing five of them.

So it should come as no surprise that CCSD's administration has found a new way to improve its stats: recommending to students who are failing mid-year or about to be expelled that they enroll in on-line charter schools. To be fair, CCSD is not the only district that has caught onto this ploy. If a student transfers midyear to an on-line school and then fails to graduate or fails even to take any classes, that student's failure or dropping out is charged to the on-line school!

What a marvelous way to improve graduation rates! We now know that CCSD followed this policy as early as 2011. Of course, this information was not aired by our local paper but emerged in a story from  Columbia's The State. A CCSD letter from an unnamed associate superintendent was cited by the state charter school district in evidence that dumping of students was a problem: the associate superintendent "writes to a parent to say that a division of that county's board of trustees would allow a student to withdraw from high school and enroll in an on-line school 'in lieu of expulsion.'"

Caught red-handed, district spokesman Jason Sakran insisted that this was an "isolated incident" and that the district "has an intervention program" for such students.

How about some statistics from the district, then, Jason. What percentage of failing students transferred to on-line schools in the last two years? What percentage of students faced with expulsion chose to enroll in on-line schools instead of participating in the intervention program? The district is required to keep track of its students, so those figures should be readily available.

What educator in his or her right mind believes that students who cannot pass or behave in a typical school setting will be successful in an on-line charter school where no one is watching?

Don't hold your breath on getting these statistics from Jason, either.

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