Mobility Report

City reveals elusive data for 13 charter schools: How many students leave each year

City education officials released data on Monday that until now has been hard to come by: The number and percentage of students who leave some of its charter schools during the school year.

The city’s reports, released Monday to the Board of Regents, only include data for 13 charter schools. But they show wide variation in average student mobility rates at those schools, from under 5 percent of students leaving between the 2010-11 and 2013-14 school years to more than 21 percent, according to a Chalkbeat analysis of the data. The numbers represent a win for the Board of Regents, which has long been pushing for more transparency around charter school enrollment.

The numbers also provide new fodder for a long-simmering debate around charter school enrollment patterns. Critics of charter schools have said one reason that some charter schools outperform district schools on state tests is because a larger number of their students — typically the ones who are the least academically proficient — leave during the school year. Those students usually end up in a nearby district school, and charter schools aren’t required to replace students they lose.

One of those critics is Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who said last year, “There shouldn’t be a whole movement out of charters the month before the test.”

But the limited student mobility data challenges that argument, to a degree. The schools with the highest average mobility rates over the past four years are also the ones that are performing the worst academically.

At Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School, for instance, just 10 percent of students were proficient on the state English exam and 13 percent were proficient in math. But the school lost an average of 21 percent of its students in each of the past four years, the most of any other school on the report.

The school with the second-highest attrition rate was Imagine Me Leadership Charter School, with 19 percent attrition. The city recommended that both schools only receive a 1.5-year renewal, which means they could be closed at the end of the 2015-16 school year if they do not improve.

A third school recommended for a probationary renewal, Lefferts Gardens Charter School, had a 15 percent average student attrition.

Democracy Prep Harlem Charter School, for which the city recommended a longer-term renewal, also showed high mobility, with an average of almost 19 percent of students leaving each year. The school lost nearly 30 percent of its students during the 2012-13 school year.

Still, the reports lack several valuable insights. While they show what percentage of students left a charter school in each of the last four school years, it does not say how those numbers compare to average student attrition in district schools.

The reports also don’t say whether those students were replaced, an issue that has divided the charter school sector, or indicate whether the exiting students were less proficient academically.

You can read the full report here.

Four-year average student attrition rates (2010-11 — 2013-14 school years)
Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science: 21.1%
Imagine Me Leadership: 19%
Democracy Prep Harlem: 18.9%
Hyde Leadership — Brooklyn: 15.8%
Leffert Gardens: 15.2%
Bed-Stuy New Beginnings: 14.4%
Bushwick Ascend: 13.1%
Renaissance Charter HS for Innovation: 13%
Rochdale Early Advantage: 12.3%
Hellenic Classical: 8.9%
Inwood Leadership: 5.6%
Riverton Street: 4.8%

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.