Letter: Charter's CRCT Results Are 'Remarkable'

The school opened during the 2011-12 school year.

In its first year of operation,  exhibits remarkable results in the 2012 Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). Highlights of this year’s CRCT results:

  • 100 percent of students met and exceeded standards in seventh grade language arts
  • 99 percent met and exceeded standards in third grade reading.

“We are very proud,” principal Vanessa Suarez said. “The faculty and students worked very hard this year.”

The school, which was , outperformed the state in all areas but one. When comparing the scores to the local , Cherokee Charter Academy outperformed or tied its district counterparts nearly 80 percent of the time while remaining within 3 percentage points of the district in four of the five remaining areas. In fifth grade, Cherokee Charter Academy students achieved higher results 100 percent of the time.

“We set the bar high for our students, they grabbed it and ran with it,” Suarez said.

When asked about the obstacles the school had to overcome last year, Local Governing Council Chair Heather Blevins said, “I don’t think any of us could have predicted we would come this far when we remember where we were this time last year.”

SACS Accredited Cherokee Charter Academy is part of the Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) family of schools. CSUSA educational advantages include integrated technology, parental involvement expectations, student uniforms, enforced discipline policies, highly qualified and motivated staff, community focus and high academic performance. Cherokee Charter Academy will add eighth grade and plans to serve 995 students when it opens for the 2012-13 academic year on July 30.

Lyn Michaels-Carden is a member of the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation board and the mother of a Cherokee Charter Academy student.

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Richard July 13, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Frank, I hope you don't teach the scientific method. Just because CCA is in the Sixes-Holly Springs area doesn't mean that's where most of their students live. Unless you have done a detailed analysis of their home address records (which is information to which you don't have access), you really have no idea where the CCA students primarily live... you're just making an assumption. And as you say, the "best" statistics would be to compare all county students (not just CCA students) to their previous year data to see if they made learning gains.
Conservative in Fulton July 13, 2012 at 02:33 PM
CCS is district wide and it's not about high income or low income areas of Cherokee County so I'm not sure why you would pick those schools to do your analysis unless it fit into your role as trashing a charter school. Stay classy!
No More Bullies July 13, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Ed-- The charter school's students do come from all across the county, but they also come from a higher income demographic, with half the rate of low income students as the county average, and very few, if any, students who cannot speak English (but still must take the CRCT in English).
Are you sure July 13, 2012 at 03:16 PM
If you believe the Charter School Students represent the demographics of Cherokee County as a whole you are sadly mistaken. Interesting how anyone who has pull in the county and wanted their children in the Charter somehow got pulled in the lottery. Just how many English as a second language students are in the charter school? How is their special education program? What application did the parents that don’t speak English fill out for their children? Call it what you want but that school does not represent the demographics of Cherokee County. Just like Liberty, Sixes and Freedom this school is very heavily attended by the upper middle class. Now compare Charter results to the schools with similar demographics and the results aren’t so favorable.
Ed July 13, 2012 at 03:22 PM
NMB - thanks for the comment. I'm not sure how you would know the "income level" of the charter school students in comparison to the district average. I'd love to see your information. I believe family structure has more impact on a student's performance than income level. Either way as a first year school and the obstacles they faced in the start up process, its pretty impressive what the Charter school accomplished, as well as the improvement that other public schools in Cherokee county achieved.
No More Bullies July 13, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Free/reduced price meal eligibility is posted for all schools, all school districts on the DOE website under Data Collections. http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fte_pack_frl001_public.entry_form
Richard July 13, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Do you have the official demographic data for CCA?
Ed July 13, 2012 at 03:39 PM
NMB - thanks for the link, but all I see is a report from October 2011 and it appears that you can only look up the district schools, but not the public charter school.
No More Bullies July 13, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Scroll down toward the bottom, all the state charter schools are grouped together. The October 2011 report is for the 2011-12 school year. Those are (largely) the same students who took the test in April 2012, unless there was some mass exodus in between?
Frank Jones July 13, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Richard, you are correct that I am assuming the students come primarily from the Sixes-Holly Springs area. It would be interesting to know from which schools CCA actually pulled students. That said, I believe it to be reasonable to assume that there aren't too many parents/children from Free Home, Waleska, Ball Ground, Acworth area, hispanics from downtown Canton, areas out 92 East, and other distant Cherokee areas that attend CCA. If that is in fact true and that most of the children are from a more local area, then comparing CCA to the entire county would be flawed.
Clark July 13, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Ed - http://www.academicjournals.org/err/pdf/pdf%202011/july/lacour%20and%20tissington.pdf "Poverty, which forms a specific culture and way of life, is a growing issue in the United States. The number of Americans living in poverty is continually increasing. Poverty indicates the extent to which an individual does without resources. Resources can include financial, emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical resources as well as support systems, relationships, role models, and knowledge of hidden rules. Poverty directly affects academic achievement due to the lack of resources available for student success. Low achievement is closely correlated with lack of resources, and numerous studies have documented the correlation between low socioeconomic status and low achievement. Several strategies exist to assist teachers in closing the poverty achievement gap for students." Please provide your study on family structure and we should easily be able to compare correlation coefficients to determine if your beliefs are indeed correct. Until then, the most direct correlation between educational achievement IS income level and because we don't have other statistics NMBs recommendation of free / reduced lunches is the best surrogate. Happy reading!
Frank Jones July 13, 2012 at 04:13 PM
@Ed...You can select Cherokee County school district and Cherokee Charter Academy separately on the website referred by NMB. Based upon the site, CCA had 813 students of which 134 qualified for free or reduced meals (16.48%). Cherokee County on the other hand had 38,774 students of which 12,032 qualified for free or reduced meals (31.03%). Based upon this one statistic, it is safe to state that the demographics of students at CCA are not representative of CCSD as a whole. It is also safe to say the the students of CCA were more affluent while CCSD students as a whole were less affluent. In addition, affluent families are typically more highly educated (but not always) and children in a home with highly educated parents are more likely to perform better academically.
Karlene Landes July 13, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Kudos to CCA However, it would be nice to know what percentage of students CCA tested were students with disabilities and/or students for whom English is a second language. My guess would be a much smaller percentage than the county average. If this is the case, the comparison of scores aren't really that meaningful.
Anne July 13, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Well said, Frank. Given this reality, one would assume that CCA would drastically outperform CCSD in all areas. After all, the odds are certainly in their favor. However, that clearly did not happen, even given the most generous interpretation of the statistics published.
Conservative in Fulton July 13, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Have you ever stepped foot in CCA? My guess is no, because if you had you would know it's a pretty diverse group of students.
Conservative in Fulton July 13, 2012 at 07:33 PM
I would love to know who the people are whose kids somehow beat the lottery system. Please, let's see some names?
Are you sure July 13, 2012 at 07:45 PM
I have been in the school many times and it is not very diverse. How many times have you been in the school? How much do you know about the diversity of Cherokee County being the Fulton person in your screen name? I spend a great deal of time in Cherokee County schools and I can tell you the closest schools to the Charter school in diversity and average income are Sixes, Liberty and Freedom. Take a look at the only picture used in this article the girl in the picture is the daughter of a person on the state charter school committee. Take a look at the enrolment and see how many names are those of people that have been shoving this Charter School down our throats for years.
Ed July 14, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Thanks y'all for the information. It has been helpful. I will take a look at it. I'm still not sure the number of free and reduced served at a school can provide a full picture of the overall demographics of the school. What if the charter school has more children than normal bring their own lunch? Remember these parents provide their own source of transportation. From my visits to the Charter school, I witnessed a more diverse student body than some other schools in the district. I think you need more than a single statistic to depict the demographics of a school. Regardless of that issue, I do want to offer up something for consideration. "If" the students that attend Cherokee Charter Academy truly come from a higher economic status, then wouldn't it benefit the Cherokee County School district? Here's why. If they are from higher income level families, then those families are more likely to own property, live in more expensive homes, and possibly own commercial property. Correct? And if they own property, then they're required to pay property taxes based on it's value. Correct? Isn't it true that if their child attends the public Charter school that their local tax dollars for education still goes towards the Cherokee School district? Wouldn't you want higher income level students attending the charter school and not using up resources for their child? It means more local funds for the district. It's just a thought.
Stacy July 14, 2012 at 04:31 AM
My child attended CCA last year and previously attended Johnston before that. I can say that the CCA seems to have more diversity than any other school I've been to in CCSD. I told friends and family members all school year that the so-called CCA lottery had to be rigged because is seems so diverse that it's like a weird secret social experiment. I would bet that aside from the City of Canton schools, that CCA has more non-white children and is more ethnically diverse than any other school in CC. I can also tell you that from sitting in car pool and people watching at the school for 2-hours every day, the students seem far less affluent that some of you have suggested. I was almost shocked at how many kids come to school with the appearance that their hair hasn't been brushed and their clothes look dirty and wrinkled. A good many of the parents and their cars don't look any better. I had lunch with my daughter several times and was mortified with the poor behavior and manners of some of her classmates. They don't seem to come from families with a higher economic status at all. I know Johnson isn't on the most affluent area list but I am moving my child back there because it seems worlds better than what I found at CCA.
Becky Casey July 14, 2012 at 04:33 AM
My kids attended CCA last year and I was extremely satisfied with the school on so many levels. The diversity is definitely there (I observe with eyes of a Native New Yorker). The homework that my 4th grader was assigned encouraged thinking outside of the box, not just memorizing monotonous material, rather really having to pull his text apart and understand it. What really stood out to me was the way my kids were spoken to and how the teachers encouraged their participation. My communication with the teachers couldn't have been easier and more well received than it was with the teachers at CCA. We live in the Cherokee High School part of the district and honestly, so many of the parents we speak with in the district are planning to move out of the Cherokee High School district before their kids reach 9th grade. Our family is excited to begin another year at CCA and happy that we were able to choose a school that we think better suits our preferences. Go Tigers!
No More Bullies July 14, 2012 at 01:10 PM
You can find enrollment reports by gender on the State DOE website as well. CCA is 84% white, the district as a whole is 74% white. The allotment sheets, found on the DOE budget and accounting pages of its website, credit CCA for having one student who needs ESL (English as a Second Language) services. http://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fte_pack_ethnicsex.entry_form
No More Bullies July 14, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Gender and race, meant to say.
Flock of Schoolgirls July 15, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Wow. First of all, did Lyn Carden even read CCA's scores? I assume what is posted on the state's website is wrong in her opinion. Second, I am shocked she even has time to write a story for the "Huffington owned liberal media Patch" I thought she was too busy making ILLEGAL robocalls against Janet Read that contained lie after lie. No class, no character.
Tracy July 28, 2012 at 07:46 PM
CCA's 2012 CRCT results were actually pretty bad. Most of their "exceed" categories were the worst in Cherokee county. Lyn Carden posted the 2 best scores...what about the rest that were horrible in comparison to other local schools? 3rd grade - 14.8% failed the math. 5th grade - 18.8% failed math. 6th grade - 17.7% failed social studies. See the full results here: http://www.ajc.com/news/2012-georgia-crct-results-1476281.html?cxntlid=brkng_nws_bnr
Jim Beam July 28, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Considering that they did it for less than half the per-child costs of Dr. P's allegedly 'bare bones' half-Billion-$$$ budget and considering that the school had a mere 3 weeks of preparation, thanks to the personal vendetta Dr. P has against charter schools and choice, I'd say the CCA scores are pretty remarkable. I look forward to seeing how well they perform with a year of organization under their belt. Their funding is poor compared to CCSD schools but I've not heard a complaint yet from that crowd. They just knuckle down and get the job done. Imagine how they'd do with the $9000/per-child spending that the CCSD schools have. CCA doesn't even have busing and yet exceeded the scores of many established, well-funded CCSD schools in its initial year of existence. And CCA didn't get a single dime of CCSD money. No wonder the anti-choice, pro-union teacher-type advocates are scared - this sort of competition will make them have to work harder!
Jim Beam July 28, 2012 at 08:39 PM
And really...all the CCA scores show is that those 3rd, 5th, and 6th graders hadn't been taught very much in the well-funded, 'traditional' public schools their parents chose to flee from. Poor kids were probably being ignored in their old schools. Glad their active parents had the choice to better their education.
No More Bullies July 28, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Three weeks? The kids had 8 months of charter education time to prep for those tests (including lots of practice tests). The charter school had HALF the low income and at risk kids as the county, and ZERO who didn't speak English. They should have blown the county schools outmodmthe water-- they even bet their charter on it. Look at the goals in the charter contract with the state. CCA had to match the meets and exceeds county percentile in every grade level, every subject. And, second goal, they had to match the exceeds percentile of the county in every grade, every subject. It didn't happen. Period. What the state will do with that in the renewal process is anyone's guess. CCA wrote these goals themselves and failed to meet them. And, if you look ahead to 2012-13, based on operating expenditures in both school budgets, the charter school will spend more to educate a child than the county, including four- five times the central administrative costs. Where is the outcry on the charter bloat?
Jim Beam July 29, 2012 at 01:27 AM
The school had about 3 weeks to prepare for actually HAVING school due to the personal anti-choice, liberal agenda of Dr. P and 4 of the old Board members. They didn't get approval nor monies until middle of last summer. Sorry - I wasn't clear there. The charter school will continue to spend much, much less per child than the bloated, half-billion CCSD will per child this year. I've compared both budgets and it's not close. Additionally, if they fail, they'll be fired, like the rest of us un-entitled workers in the private sector. But again, when it comes to the CCSD budget, the charter school is completely irrelevant. No CCSD money is being spent on charters. I don't understand the hatred. CCSD parents should love Charter parents - CCSD parents get to spend the property taxes of charter parents without needing to educate their kids. The money isn't following the student but instead staying in the county. I guess some folks just don't like competition or are just scared of change.
Frank Jones July 29, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Steely, you're now blaming CCSD for CCA's failure as CCA only had 3 weeks to get ready for school. Wow! Maybe CCA should have realized that 3 weeks wasn't enough time? Or maybe CCA truly believed that 3 weeks was plenty of time since CCA is spotted by a management group with sufficient resources to expedite a school opening, much like a franchisor. In reality, CCA had 8 months to educate the children, had on average higher income families, less diversity in special needs, and still failed to perform better than CCSD. Wow! You can't blame CCSD for all of CCA's failures. You can't blame CCSD for CCA's rush to open. Basically, CCA failed to deliver, failed to be CCSD, and is now going to pay "professional fees" (as reported in the Cherokee Ledger) of $1 million or 13%. Wow!
Are you sure July 29, 2012 at 06:54 PM
You obviously have not spent any time in Cherokee High school or Freedom Middle school. These are some of the best teachers in the state. CCS begged many of these teachers to move to the Charter school and they declined the offer. The AP class choice and social experience a student at Cherokee HS receives will never be matched by the for profit Charter school experience. Not only is Cherokee superior in the class room but the sports, groups and clubs offered will not be matched by the charter school. If these parents would step back and let their children make the decisions about where to go to school, the halls at the Charter school would be a very lonely place.


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