Dearborn charters struggle to keep up on state tests

DEARBORN, Mich. – Charter schools in Dearborn are struggling to match the conventional school district’s scores on state standardized tests, according to the Dearborn Press & Guide.

Two charter schools, West Village South Campus and the Dearborn Academy, scored the lowest on the fourth grade MEAP test in all of Dearborn or Dearborn Heights. Sixty-five percent of Dearborn Academy students and 66 percent of West Village students scored proficient on the fourth grade math test. The state average for the test was 86 percent, and Dearborn Schools averaged 85 percent. In English Language Arts, 46 percent of students scored proficient at Dearborn Academy, while 40 percent of fourth graders at West Village were proficient. The state average for that portion of the test was 76 percent, with Dearborn Public Schools averaging 67 percent, the Press & Guide reported.

The two charters are operated by American Institutional Management Services. AIMS Director of Education Angela Laugh said it isn’t necessarily fair to compare the charter public school scores to local conventional school districts because the school pulls students from a larger geographic area, while also having a high student turnover rate. At The Dearborn Academy, one-quarter of fourth grade students haven’t been at the school for a full year. At West Village, one-third of students have attended for less than a year. Because of this, those scores are not counted when determining whether they met federal standards, according to the Press & Guide.

There are six charter schools in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights and all of them scored at least 10 points below the state average on the fourth grade English Language Arts test, according to the Press & Guide.

Dearborn Press & Guide, "Local charter academies struggle with state tests," May 14, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "Markets, not MEAP, best way to measure school quality," May 12, 2000

The Michigan Education Report commentary "Markets, not MEAP, best way to measure school quality," argues that using MEAP scores to compare charter schools to conventional public school districts is misleading because, according to a report on charter schools from the Hudson Institute “‘the (MEAP) data reveal as much about where charter-school students are coming from as about how they're doing once enrolled.’” Since charter schools are so new, prior schooling experience of students has a strong effect on the early test scores of charter schools.” The true test of school quality should be based on the school’s ability to meet parents’ needs.