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NEWSWIRE: August 26, 2014

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Vol. 16, No. 33

THE GOLDEN STATE OF CHARTERS.  As if there isn’t enough excitement around the start of school, a new report illuminates a remarkable transformation that has taken place in the California charter school sector over the last few years. Between the 2007-08 and 2012-13 school years, the number of charter schools performing in the bottom 10 percent has been reduced by one-third, with the number of charters in the top 25 percent increasing by five percent. In that same period, the number of charter students in California has grown significantly, going from 285,000 to 471,000. If CER’s charter survey is any judge, the steady growth of charter schools is hardly isolated to California. The CA report also suggests charters are helping low-income students receive a better education. Ever since Vergara, California has been having a serious period of introspection concerning its public education system, but as far as the charter sector goes, things are looking up in the Golden State.

TENNESSEE TURNAROUND. Cameron College Prep in Nashville has been named a ‘reward school,’ placing it among an elite group of schools to make substantial progress on state assessments. This is a particularly special honor for Cameron College Prep, which became a conversion school a mere three years ago, and now is delivering on the promise of providing a superior learning environment for its students. In a partnership with the Metro Nashville Public Schools, the reputable LEAD network turned around the underperforming Cameron Middle School, producing the highest growth index in math across all grades in the entire state in a remarkably brief window. As a whole, charter schools accounted for one-third of the high-performing schools to come out of the Music City, even though they made up 19 out of the 153 public schools in the MNPS. It’s stories like these that show what real reform looks like, and for a state that ranks 26th in Parent Power, CER hopes meaningful change is forthcoming to spread success.

TARHEEL TURMOIL.  Kids head back to school this week across North Carolina, but unfortunately some are facing more uncertainty about their educational future than others. Last week, a Superior Court judge issued a misguided injunction against the Opportunity Scholarship program, halting the future distribution of scholarships for low-income children. Now, the parents who secured a better opportunity for their child are faced with the prospect that the voucher program might not continue past this month, let alone next school year. The injunction is now on the fast track to being appealed to the State Supreme Court, where it has been reversed before in an earlier challenge that CER condemned. In the meantime, the thousands of students who have received scholarships and the thousands more potential applicants will have to wait and see whether their choice will be protected and preserved, rather than unjustly taken away.

VOUCHER RANKS.  CER’s first-ever voucher rankings and scorecard, out tomorrow, provides a roadmap for state leaders to bring school choice voucher programs that truly translate into more and better learning opportunities for students. Yes, policy design is critical, but it’s not enough to merely have a law on the books. Check out the report tomorrow, which underscores the importance of getting voucher implementation right. You can find it here.

WE HAVE A NEW HOME! As of today, CER has relocated, now officially back in the heart of the nation’s capital. Come see us at 1901 L Street NW, Suite 705, Washington, DC 20036.