The state Charter School Advisory Board recommended Monday a three-year renewal for Hope Charter Leadership Academy, a small, high-poverty school on the north side of downtown Raleigh.
The advisory board didn’t recommend a full 10-year renewal for Hope because only 25.7 percent of students passed state exams this past school year and it received an “F” school performance grade. But board members said Hope was trending in the right direction because the passing rate is increasing and the school met academic growth targets for two of the last three years.
“I would hope that a three-year renewal would not be taken negatively by the school community because this is a school that I’d like to see continue, given the impact they’re having on their socioeconomic demographic,” said advisory board member Joseph Maimone.
The three-year renewal is contingent upon Hope continuing to meet academic growth goals. Hope would need to report back to the advisory board if it fell short.
Hope is a taxpayer-funded public charter school that’s independent of the Wake County school system.
Demographically, Hope does not mirror the school system. Of Hope’s 123 students, 99.1 percent qualify for federally subsidized lunches compared to 35.8 percent for Wake. Nearly all of Hope’s students are black or Hispanic.
Like many of the high-poverty schools, Hope’s passing rate fell in the 2012-13 school year when new state exams based on the Common Core were introduced. The proficiency rate that school year was 17.3 percent and the school met growth.
In the 2013-14 school year, the proficiency rate rose to 22.3 percent, but the school didn’t meet growth. The school also received a school performance grade of F.
In the 2014-15 school year, the passing rate rose to 25.7 percent and the school met growth. Hope received an F grade again.
Clarissa Fleming, Hope’s principal, cited steps the school has made such as switching last school year to a leadership program based on the “Leader In Me” program. She also cited how ineffective teachers have been replaced by highly qualified ones.
“We’re very pleased about a lot of things that are going on at Hope,” said Walt Sherlin, chairman of Hope’s board and a retired Wake County associate superintendent. “We’re not pleased with the academic outcomes our students have had.
“We’re not deterred. I think we’re doing a lot of things to make a difference.”
Advisory board members said they were impressed by Hope’s leadership, including their commitment to raise student performance before considering an expansion in enrollment. Advisory board members also noted as a positive how Hope’s growth score on state exams was higher than many of the high-poverty schools in the Wake County school system.
“The data is trending in the right direction,” said Alex Quigley, chairman of the advisory board.
The recommendation goes to the State Board of Education for review. Hope’s charter is set to expire June 2016.