Leaders with Metro Nashville Public Schools have serious concerns about what is happening at some of the city's most popular charter schools.
Students are leaving in large numbers at a particularly important time of the school year, and the consequences may have an impact on test scores.
Charter schools are literally built on the idea that they will outperform public, zoned schools. They are popular because they promise and deliver results, but some new numbers are raising big questions about charter schools.
One of the first things a visitor sees when stepping into Kipp Academy is a graph that shows how Kipp is outperforming Metro schools in every subject.
However, Kipp Academy is also one of the leaders in another stat that is not something to crow about.
When it comes to the net loss of students this year, charter schools are the top eight losers of students.
In fact, the only schools that have net losses of 10 to 33 percent are charter schools.
"We look at that attrition. We keep an eye on it, and we actually think about how we can bring that back in line with where we've been historically," said Kipp Principal Randy Dowell.
Dowell said Kipp's 18 percent attrition is unacceptable.
MNPS feels it's unacceptable as well, because not only are they getting kids from charter schools, but they are also getting troubled kids and then getting them right before testing time.
"That's also a frustration for the zoned-school principals. They are getting clearly challenging kids back in their schools just prior to accountability testing," said MNPS Chief Operating Officer Fred Carr.
Nineteen of the last 20 children to leave Kipp Academy had multiple out-of-school suspensions. Eleven of the 19 are classified as special needs, and all of them took their TCAPs at Metro zoned schools, so their scores won't count against Kipp.
"We won't know how they perform until we receive results and we see. We would be happy to take their results, frankly. The goal is getting kids ready for college. The goal is not having shiny results for me or for anyone on the team," Dowell said.
Kipp Academy has started new counseling groups to try to retain children. MNPS said it constantly sees charters being held up as the model, but feels these numbers prove the two different types of schools play by different rules.
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