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Michigan charter school authorizers’ performance overall has improved marginally over the last year, but remains terribly low compared to leading states’ charter sectors, according to Accountability for All: 2016, The Broken Promise of Michigan’s Charter Sector. The report celebrates high-performing authorizers and sheds light on the devastatingly low performance of other authorizers.
Three Michigan public universities – Northern Michigan University (NMU), Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) – are the state’s worst performing authorizers today, according to the report. Indeed, of the charter schools authorized by NMU, SVSU, and EMU, roughly one-quarter of their eligible schools ranked among the worst performing 10 percent of schools statewide, according to the 2013-14 accountability rankings. About 19,000 students attend schools authorized by NMU, SVSU, and EMU in Michigan today.
“Some of Michigan’s public universities have betrayed the public trust in them – and the investment of millions of Michigan taxpayers’ dollars – by consistently failing their students for years,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest and one of the report’s authors.
The new report proposes Michigan’s first performance-based accountability system for charter authorizers. Presently no one – not even Governor Rick Snyder – holds authorizers accountable for their academic performance, despite the fact that their authorized schools serve nearly 145,000 Michigan children, and charter schools take in more than $1 billion dollars of taxpayer dollars annually.
“We call on State Superintendent Brian Whiston and the Michigan Legislature to finally hold authorizers accountable for their schools’ performance,” Arellano said. “Charter authorizing should be a privilege — not an entitlement — and should be earned and maintained by consistently high achievement. Learning matters in the lives of children: it needs to matter for Michigan school charter authorizers, too.”
Accountability for All: 2016 includes an updated scorecard that ranks authorizers with “A” to “F” grades based on analyses of their school portfolios’ student academic outcomes. The sixteen authorizers graded enroll 95 percent of Michigan’s charter students.