Naked City

Charter Schools Flunk Out

Last week the state commissioner of education, Felipe Alanis, ordered that five of the state's "low-performing" charter schools, serving about 2,000 students in all, be closed at the end of the school year. These are the first charter schools to be closed by the Texas Education Agency for academic reasons, although others have been shut down after financial irregularities.

The TEA's action came after the five schools -- two in Houston, one in Dallas, and two in the Rio Grande Valley -- got the agency's lowest performance ratings (based on attendance, dropout rates, and test scores) for three consecutive years. State law allows Alanis to close charter schools after two years of low performance. "At some point, enough is enough," said TEA spokeswoman Debbie Graves Ratcliffe. The schools may appeal, but the TEA says it would then likely move to revoke the schools' charters.

Five additional charter schools with three straight years of low performance -- including Austin's Eden Park Academy and Texas Empowerment Academy -- will be sanctioned but not closed, because according to the TEA they are improving or have other extenuating circumstances. Of approximately 200 Texas charter schools, 10 have been ranked as low-performing for three straight years; of the state's 7,519 traditional schools, only two have been low-performing for three straight years.

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