Charlotte Learning Academy officials say they will appeal the State Board of Education’s decision not to renew the school’s license for next year. If they lose the appeal, the school will close at the end of this year.
Board members voted to close Charlotte Learning Academy last week, citing poor student performance on state exams and student growth targets not being met. The charter has received an "F" grade from the state since it opened in 2014. State board officials say only about 18 percent of the charter’s students are on grade level.
But Stacey Rose, the school’s principal and founder, noted that over the past two years, they were only a percentage point or less from meeting growth targets. She said test scores do not tell the whole story.
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“We’re more than test scores,” Rose said. “Our kids are graduating and we’re doing what we said we would in our charter to make sure they have post-secondary opportunities and I wish they had looked more at the bigger picture. I hope in the appeal we can speak more on that bigger picture.”
Charlotte Learning Academy was founded to serve low-income students who struggled in traditional school settings. Rose said a lot of her students were on the brink of dropping out, but 75 percent are graduating within four years and 98 percent within five years.
“A lot of these kids are left behind elsewhere. But with our smaller classrooms, they are excelling and making it and feeling motivated and confident to excel and those things should matter,” Rose said. “We have a few in community colleges, a lot in HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). One of our babies last year went to Belmont Abbey on a full scholarship, one went to Portland, Oregon, but a lot are just staying in North Carolina and attending HBCUs here.”
Rose said of last year’s 30 graduates, 23 went to two- and four-year colleges. She added that 38 of the school's 41 seniors this year have been accepted in college.
State school board members say they realize that good things are happening at Charlotte Learning Academy, but not enough to warrant renewal. The appeal process could take a month.