The Washington Post's Emma Brown has written her third article of the year on student expulsion rates at D.C. charter schools. For the first time, she has found that the number of students removed from charters for disciplinary actions has dropped. But be careful not to come to any quick conclusions regarding the data:
"[Susan] Schaeffler [CEO of KIPP DC] said the decrease stems partly from policy changes meant to prevent discipline problems, including shorter passing periods between classes and a revised demerit system that emphasizes rewards over punishment.
But in future years, expulsion rates could be higher, she said, adding that discipline data normally fluctuate because of student behavior, which varies from year to year for many reasons. One violent incident involving many students can boost expulsion rates quickly, she said, and although KIPP DC watches its discipline data closely, officials will continue to expel students if necessary to maintain safety."
Charter schools students score higher on the DC CAS than do traditional public school students and have a much higher high school graduation rate especially among those who qualify for free or reduced lunch. My story on the most recent standardized test score results included this tidbit:
"In addition, an analysis by Steve Taylor for FOCUS shows that charter students significantly outperform their DCPS peers in Wards 7 and 8, which contain the most disadvantaged students. In Ward 7, charter students score higher than their DCPS counterparts by 19 points in math and by 17 points in reading. In Ward 8 charters score 31% greater in math and 21% higher in reading."
A component of improving student academic achievement in charter schools is to make sure that children are not harmed while they are in class. The Public Charter School Board has encouraged schools to find alternative ways of handling disruptive students other than expulsion. In addition, there is an experienced operator application before the PCSB to open a charter serving kids who have been expelled from other schools for behavioral issues.
Ms. Brown indicates that the charter school expulsion rate went down 27% for the last school term compared to 2011, equating to 186 students removed from their schools compared to 227 the previous year. This is just one more positive indicator for the system that is poised to teach half of all public school students in the nation's capital.