Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

August 19, 2015

Hope Christian Schools: Another Voucher School Program Built on Half-truths, False Claims and Manipulated Data

Filed under: Vouchers — millerlf @ 4:02 pm

Previously I have addressed the failure of so-called high-performing voucher schools by exposing the facade created by St. Marcus Lutheran School (see: Response to MJS Article on Henry Tyson and St. Marcus Lutheran School ). Recently I was able to interview an educator from Hope Christian Academy describing similar failings to those of St. Marcus.

Hope Christian Schools (HCS) started in 2002 with one school serving 47 students. Today, they have six schools serving nearly 2,000 students.

The narrative presented to me by a teacher at HCS, does not represent transparency and fidelity in educating our kids.

For example:
Hope Christian Schools claims: “(MAP testing) At our K-8 level, our students have grown by 45% more than their peers, nationally, in both math and reading.”
The truth is that students retake the MAP test until they show demanded improvement.

Students have been expelled, not for fighting, but for simply showing aggressive behavior. Students are constantly warned, “Do you want to go back to MPS?” MPS is constantly berated and made fun of.

Special education: There are little accommodations for students with special needs. Students are placed into groups according to reading or math MAP scores but there is no special education. Students who have special needs are most likely categorized as chronically misbehaved and may be subject to being “counseled out” or expelled. There is no special education program and student IEP’s are fulfilled by MPS.

Hope Christian Schools claims: (WKCE testing): “At our K-8 level, students arrive at our schools scoring significantly below the district average. After 2 years at HOPE, our scholars not only met, but exceeded their district peers in both math and reading.”
The truth is that last year’s 8th grade at Fortis (31 students tested) saw only 6% of its students (2 students) test at proficient and zero percent tested as advanced for reading. The 5th grade at Semper had only 4% test proficient with zero percent testing advanced. (See at: http://tinyurl.com/oyoojz3)

HCS brags about its graduation rates. But this year’s graduation cohort of 34 students had 51 students take the WKCE exam in 2012. What happened to the 17 students (36%) not graduating this year? Were they counted toward graduation rates as they would be with MPS’s graduation calculations?

HCS teaches very little social studies and history while focusing on “no-nonsense” Christian “character building”. The staff person I interviewed described the culture as torture to watch, a jail.

Most teachers come from Teach For America and very few of the teachers at Semper and Fortis have a teaching license. Between these two schools (the person I interviewed estimated between 40 and 60 teachers) last year there was one African-American teacher.

Hope Christian Schools has many new buildings and is aggressively expanding with public money. But behind its shiny new exteriors, is it doing justice for our children?

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