The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Charter Renewal - Discussion of Non-Renewal for Lowell Community Charter Public School
|To:||Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education|
|From:||Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner|
|Date:||January 15, 2010|
In December 2009, the Board discussed my recommendation not to renew the charter of Lowell Community Charter Public School (LCCPS) based on the school's failure, as a ten-year-old school, to make sufficient academic progress to support a positive renewal recommendation. In light of ongoing discussions with LCCPS and the district, I am not asking you to vote at the January meeting.
Representatives of the charter school have been invited to address the Board at the January 26th meeting and have chosen to do so. I am also scheduling a meeting at the school to hear from parents, teachers, and administrators. In addition, I have met with and am continuing a dialogue with local officials to ensure that all Lowell students, both LCCPS and traditional public school students, would be well served during this transition. I have sent a letter to all families whose children are currently attending the school to inform them of my recommendation and encourage them to exercise all possible options, should the school be closed at the end of June. The Department has received many letters and emails from parents and students regarding the non-renewal recommendation. Under separate cover we are providing copies of this correspondence to Board members.
The following information provides an overview of my reasons for making this difficult recommendation. The attached Summary of Review provides more detailed information on the most recent five-year record of the school, including data on student achievement on MCAS during the charter term. I have also attached data on student growth to provide additional background for my decision.
Lowell Community Charter Public School
LCCPS is a Commonwealth charter school. The school opened in 2000. In March 2005, the Board renewed the school's charter for a second five-year term. LCCPS is chartered to serve students from Lowell in kindergarten through grade eight. The school is chartered to serve 900 students, but reports that it enrolled 947 students in September 2009 because it expects enrollment to drop during the school year.
The school's mission statement reads: "The purpose of the Lowell Community Charter Public School is to prepare a cross section of Lowell children for success as students, citizens, and workers by providing them with a comprehensive curriculum in a supportive, challenging, multicultural learning environment. The school's highest priority is the promotion of academic achievement for all students in each of the areas addressed by the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks, including: English, reading and language arts, writing, mathematics, science, health and fitness, world languages, art, and music, as well as character and ethics. The Lowell Community Charter Public School will place special emphasis on the contributions that immigrants have made to American life and to Lowell's development over the years, and on the culture, language, and history of the Southeast Asian and Latino peoples who comprise a substantial portion of Lowell's present day population. The school will actively promote the joy of discovery and creativity in the learning process, and will integrate the use of technology into aspects of instruction. The opportunity for learning will be enhanced through a longer school day and an extended year. Student achievement will be demonstrated in measurable terms to parents, students, and the community at large."
The school has failed to carry out the component of its mission statement which asserts that the "school's highest priority is the promotion of academic achievement." Student performance on the MCAS has been persistently low and has shown minimal improvement since the school's first renewal in 2005. In addition, in comparisons of MCAS performance to the district of Lowell, LCCPS did not, in the aggregate, in any instances, perform at a statistically significantly higher level than the district. The student performance data provide grounds for non-renewal of the charter, and a review of the school's growth data further validates the concern. In fact, in the aggregate and for virtually every student group, year-to-year achievement as well as growth for LCCPS trails that of the Lowell Public Schools and the state by a substantial margin. In short, most LCCPS students are losing ground compared to their counterparts in the Lowell Public Schools and their counterparts statewide. In addition, the school has not yet put in place the necessary structures and systems to support academic progress, and the school's board has failed to take sufficient action to address this urgent situation.
If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Jeff Wulfson, Associate Commissioner, at 781-338-6500; or Mary Street, Director of Charter Schools, at 781-338-3200; or me.
Summary of Review
Additional Information - Growth Data