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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/18/19

Manipulating Data for the Benefit of Charter Schools

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It turns out that these same confidential documents show that when the Charter School Division wanted to use the same SPF indicators as a way of approving or rejecting charter renewals, charter schools did not want the score to be used that way. Apparently, the SPF is good for public schools but private schools should not be held to those same standards.

As you consider this subject, let's look at the source of this proposal.

While a resolution authored by Jackie Goldberg and aimed at eliminating the SPF was on the agenda, it was instead forwarded to the Curriculum and Instruction Committee that will give it a complete public hearing at their meeting on October 8, 2019, at 10:00 AM. Hopefully, this discussion will include a deep dive into the origins of this form of performance measurement, the ways the CCSA intended to use it against the district, and a determination of whether the performance measurement as designed by the contractors achieved the results originally intended by the board's resolution.

Even with their intentions fully revealed, the charter school industry is committed to defending the SPF by defeating Goldberg's resolution. Speak Up, an astroturf organization created to help elect Melvoin, is in hardcore propaganda mode. They claim that eliminating the Yelp-like rating system will deny "parents access to student growth data", but in fact, an artificially created scale of one to five stars is not data at all. The SPF was supposed to "give parents a better way to evaluate their schools" but it turned into a system that has Melvoin's handlers at the CCSA interpreting the facts based on what they want parents to think.

Despite Speak Up's emphasis on measuring growth, the system that was developed also only partially uses growth in determining the score a school will receive. Raw test scores and graduation rates are also used as are vague performance indicators like "school climate." The exact weight of each measurement in the overall score is determined not by the parents who will be using the rating system but by district bureaucrats directed by the CCSA.

The SPF punishes schools that accept the challenge of meeting the needs of students facing educational challenges by using raw test scores in the calculations. What the version that was presented to focus groups for review lacked was any information for parents seeking specific services. Nor was the ability to serve these types of students included in calculating the score. Since this system was created to benefit the charter school industry, this oversight should not be thought of as accidental considering their failing record of providing special education services.

While Speak Up alleges that parents "spent a year attending working group meetings" developing the framework, in reality, the parents who participated were not chosen from the general population but from Melvoin's mailing list. Opinions obtained by these focus groups are, therefore, not indicative of what the average LAUSD parent needs from this web site but from what Speak Up's members want. Even with the jaundiced selection of the population, all of the participants in the group that I attended opposed the Yelp-style rating.

The resolution that created the SPF was passed with board majority that included convicted felon Ref Rodriguez. The election of Goldberg changed the direction of the board to one that focuses on the 80% of students who attend LAUSD schools. Overturning a performance measurement system written by the charter school industry would be an important step in ending the practice of turning over public school facilities to private entities. This is especially true when these same charter school entities express "concern" with using this same system as a way to "shape future [charter] renewal criteria". If this new system is ill-fitted for the goose, the gander should have no part of it.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a "strong supporter of public schools." His past blogs can be found at Opinions are his own.

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Carl Petersen is a father of five, including two daughters who are on the autism spectrum. His involvement in education issues began when the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) refused to provide services that his daughters' teachers (more...)

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