Nearly 1,800 Pima County children are being served by D-rated charter schools, data released by the Arizona Department of Education shows.
D-rated schools perform below average by state standards — a category that 14 percent of Pima County’s 64 traditional and small charter schools fall into. A smaller share of public schools — 11 percent — fell into the D-range for the 2013-2014 school year.
The charter schools that earned a grade of D this year are Ha:San Preparatory & Leadership School, Compass High School, Adalberto M. Guerrero School, Academy Adventures Primary School, Tucson International Academy Midvale, A Child’s View School, Academy Del Sol — Hope, La Paloma Academy — South, and Desert Sky Community School.
Of the nine “D” campuses, two are at risk of being labeled failing — Ha:san and Academy Adventures — after having earned D’s for three consecutive years. An appeals process is currently underway and is expected to be competed by the end of the month.
Five other charter schools that earned D’s this year have found themselves in that situation at least once before over the last three years.
Letter grades are based on the weighting of student performance on the AIMS test and student academic growth from year to year, along with additional points awarded for high English-language-learner reclassifications and significant reductions in dropout rates.
While a higher percentage of charter schools are earning D’s compared with public schools, charter schools locally and across the state have seen an improvement in letter grades over the last four years, with more earning A’s than in the past and an annual reduction in D schools.
The number of D-rated charter schools is down 64 percent from 2012 across the state — going from 82 to 29 currently.
This year, nearly 36 percent of Pima County charter schools earned A’s compared with 23 percent of local public schools.
The Arizona Charter Schools Association reported that nearly 73 percent of charter schools have either improved their letter grades or maintained their performance over the last year.
“We are proud that such a large percentage of our schools are fulfilling their contract to improve student achievement,” said Ildiko Laczko-Kerr, Arizona Charter Schools Association Vice President of Academics. “We know there is still work ... to be done, but our authorizers are closing schools that aren’t doing well, laying out clear expectations for schools that need to improve, and making it easier for high-performing schools to expand, ultimately giving parents more quality school options.”
Charters are publicly funded, but independently run schools that are held accountable for improved student achievement. They are tuition-free, and hold contracts with the state to provide education to students.
Of the nine top charter systems identified by the state Education Department, four operate schools in the Tucson area — Basis, Legacy Traditional Charter Schools, Sonoran Science Academy and The Charter Foundation, Inc.