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RSD rep says acceptable SPS is within reach; urges stalling plan to add sixth grade

As Crocker works to raise its school performance score and renew its charter, the school board members received a visit from a Recovery School District administrator at their monthly meeting, Jan. 28.

In addition to charter retention and the SPS score, Adam Hawf, the executive director of the RSD’s Office of School Performance, discussed the possible addition of a sixth grade, a move he considers premature.

Hawf praised the board for several accomplishments, including Crocker’s 100 percent retention of special-education students from one year to the next. Hawf called the retention rate “fantastic” and noted that he has not seen one so high at any other charter school in the area. Correction, Feb. 10: Board President Grisela Jackson said that the 100 percent retention figure is just for special-education students, not all students.

It “reflects that you all are doing a good job,” Hawf said.

The SPS score, based on a mix that includes attendance and test scores, needs work, however, Hawf said. The score stands at 65.2; the minimum acceptable score for next year will be 75.

Hawf explained that in evaluating a charter renewal application, state officials factor in the baseline SPS average over two years and the growth of the SPS average over one year. If one, or both are above 75 then renewal will be recommended.  If neither score is above 75 then it is unlikely that a school will get a recommendation for renewal, Hawf said.

“What you need to do is raise your attendance rate, iLEAP scores and LEAP scores to get a 75.  That is achievable,” Hawf said.

“Our attendance is at almost 95% each day,” principal Charmaine Robertson said, adding that the school now mandates meetings with parents of absentees.

Hawf suggested giving rewards to students who achieve perfect attendance. Assistant principal Shauntel Butler noted that incentives already in place include crazy hat days, dance-in-the-hallway days and movie days.

To improve test scores, Crocker has mandated tutoring for third- through fifth-graders, Robertson said.

Crocker is still debating whether to add a sixth grade when they move to a new campus.  Asked for his view, Hawf said the decision should be delayed.  “When a school is on the border (of charter renewal) we wait for them to get off that before expanding,” Hawf said.

Other strategies for ensuring charter renewal include changing lesson plans and re-assigning teachers to new classrooms.

Leap testing is in April; the charter renewal  recommendation comes in October.

In addition to Robertson and Butler, those present for the meeting included board chairwoman Grisela Jackson, vice chairman John Jones, interim treasurer John Tobler, secretary Shaun Rafferty, and members Stephen Boyard Jr., Edward Scarfenberg and Mary Ellen Alexander. Financial administrator Cherie Lopez was also present.

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