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What charter school rankings really show

New school rankings show Leflore Legacy Academy Charter School in Greenwood, in only its second year of operation, was rated higher overall than any middle or junior high school in the Greenwood-Leflore district in the school year that ended in May.

Clarksdale Collegiate Charter School had a higher level of reading proficiency than any school in the Clarksdale district.

Both schools posted strong numbers for growth in reading, with each scoring better than all but one school in the respective districts where they are located, including growth among students in the bottom 25 percent academically.

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And yet both schools were assigned a grade of D on an A-F grading scale. As for the districts in which these schools are located, Greenwood-Leflore received a D, and the Clarksdale district received an F. (Charters are not governed by the districts, so their grades are not included in the district scores.)

Smilow Prep Charter School, was the fourth-highest rated middle school in Jackson, while Reimagine Prep was fifth among the 13 middle schools in the city. Midtown Public Charter School was tenth. The three charter schools in Jackson that are middle schools ranked 4, 6, and 8 in reading proficiency.

Among the eight charter schools now open in Mississippi, one received a B, two received a C, three, including the two mentioned above, received a D, and two school are too new to get a grade. When you consider that Mississippi’s charter law requires charters to open in failing districts and charters (unlike magnet schools) cannot restrict enrollment by requiring students to pass an admissions test, I’m really proud of their progress. Many of these charters are welcoming students who arrive two grade levels behind and these innovative schools are helping these students catch up and achieve their full potential.

Be aware that we have heard some charter school opponents say charters are performing among the worst schools in the state. This fallacy comes from the initial chart published by the Mississippi Department of Education, which listed only school districts. Since charter schools are treated as districts as well as schools,

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