Over the last four months, 465 students have transferred out of city charter schools and into Buffalo public schools. The overwhelming majority cited “parental choice” as the reason for the transfer, according to the report provided to the School Board on Wednesday.
Only 8 percent of the returning students – 39 – reported being transferred to Buffalo public schools because they were expelled or suspended from the charter school in which they were enrolled.
The report was of great interest to the board because of anecdotal information from district principals that some charter schools have “kicked out” low-performing students to artificially inflate their test scores and graduation rates.
Board member Theresa Harris-Tigg questioned the accuracy of the reasons given, saying parents want to present their children in the best possible light and may not be honest about the true reasons for the transfer.
“I personally don’t think this is valid,” she said.
Board members Mary Ruth Kapsiak and Florence Johnson also noted that 20 percent of the transfer students had special education needs.
The one-page report, which covers July 1 to Nov. 18, provided preliminary indications that most parents who transferred their children from charter schools to Buffalo public schools did so out of personal preference.
The report does not, however, cover the spring semester, which is when district principals say they see the greatest percentage of last-minute transfers out of charter schools. It also does not include information about Buffalo public schoolchildren who transfer out of the district to area charters.
Will Keresztes, chief of student support, stated that if parents are going to transfer for their own reasons – as opposed to being forced out – it’s most likely to happen over the summer, which is when most of these transfer requests occurred.
The district will do another survey in the spring, which would reflect students who are transferring from charter schools to district schools mid-year, he said.
Board member James Sampson also requested that the district report on how many children leave Buffalo district schools to enroll in charter schools.
Board member Sharon Belton-Cottman said the district needs to gather better information because it can help promote the district. “There’s a reason why they’re coming back to us, and that’s a good thing,” she said. “We should use that data to sell ourselves.”
The three charter schools that saw the greatest percentage of students transferred from July to November included Aloma D. Johnson Charter School, which saw a transfer of 20 percent of its students; Buffalo United Charter School, which saw 14 percent transfer; and Enterprise Charter School, which saw 12 percent.
In terms of sheer numbers, Buffalo United Charter School had the most transfers – 94 students out of 659, according to the district report.
Among these charter schools, Buffalo United Charter School had the best academic performance record as of the 2011-12 school year, the latest year for which state report card data is available.
Buffalo United Charter School had at least half of its students showing proficiency in third-, fourth- and fifth-grade English and math, but low proficiency in sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade English. The school meets or exceeds the state average in fourth-grade English and math, fifth-grade math, and seventh- and eighth-grade math.
Aloma D. Johnson Charter School had less than half its students passing third- and fourth-grade English and math, except for fourth-grade math, which had 57 percent proficiency. All results fell below the state public school averages.
Enterprise Charter School had less than half of its students meeting proficiency standards in English across all grade levels, and less than half of students proficient in math except for fifth and seventh grades. All results fell below the state public school averages.
In other news, the board:
• Received a breakdown of the racial makeup of all district public schools for this school year.
The school with the lowest percentage of white students was BUILD Academy School 91 – less than 5 percent. Discovery School 67 had the greatest percentage of white students – 81 percent.
• Among high schools, East had the lowest percentage of white students at 6 percent, while City Honors had the highest percentage of white students, at 70 percent of students.
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