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NC Charter Schools Fall Short on Academics, Rate High on Finance


North Carolina’s charter schools are performing well on financial and management goals but falling short of academic targets.

That’s from a draft report that will go to the state’s Charter School Advisory Board at its September meeting. The legislature requires an annual report on the independent public schools, which report to private boards rather than local school districts.

North Carolina had 172 charter schools at the end of the 2017-18 school year, and 162 of them met or exceeded all financial and operational goals. That’s a huge improvement from three years earlier, when less than one-third of all charter schools hit that mark, the report says.

The report by the state's Office of Charter Schools credits stronger monitoring and better communication from office staff. 

But the academic side didn't look as strong.

Seventy charter schools earned an A or B on state performance grades, which are based mostly on student performance on state exams. That's just under 42% of the schools that got letter grades, and the state had set the target at 43.5%.

Almost 69% of charter schools met or exceeded the state's growth measure, which is based on how students fared on exams compared with previous years' performance. That's a lower percentage than the previous three years and below the goal of at least 75% meeting growth, the report says.

And 28 were on the state’s "continually low performing" list in 2018. That means they were labeled low performing, based on student proficiency and growth, at least two of the last three years. The goal had been to reduce that number from 20 in 2017 to nine in 2018.

The charter advisory board and the Board of Education will review the 2019 report before sending it to lawmakers.

Data for 2018-19 hasn’t been released yet. You can find 2017-18 reports on any charter or traditional public school at the state's school report card site.

Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.