A year ago Alexandra Pardo, the former executive director of Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS, wrote a guest editorial talking about the importance of measuring student Median Growth Percentile (MGP) as the best indicator of academic progress. The D.C. Public Charter School Board also takes this number seriously as it comprises 40 percent of the grade charters receive on the Performance Management Framework tool for elementary and middle schools. This number drops to 15 percent of the total score for high schools.
In fact, educators know that the longer a student spends in many of our charters the better they do academically. This only makes sense. A kid that arrives in a school years behind grade level will have a much more difficult time adjusting to the environment the first year in a new facility compared to the third term.
Charters that fail to back fill available slots after a particular year could gain an advantage regarding their PMF score over those charters that accept all comers. In her article on this issue, Ms. Natalie Wexler points to the difference in student overall proficiency rates of Achievement Prep and DC Prep Edgewood, which do not take students after the sixth grade and E.L. Haynes, which does not have this restriction. Moreover, Achievement Prep Wahler Place Middle PCS and DC Prep Edgewood Middle PCS are ranked at Tier 1 schools on the 2014 PMF while all three E.L. Haynes PCS’s campuses are at Tier 2.
For four years now the PCSB has ranked charters based upon PMF scores. If this ranking is to be equitable for all schools then each should adopt a policy of back filling vacated seats. In this way the PMF will have the legitimacy that the public has come to expect from this assessment.