Cesar Ch¡vez’s Precarious Charter

A group of concerned parents and school officials spoke out during the Santa Barbara School Board meeting Tuesday night to offer their support for Cesar Ch¡vez Charter School. Started in 2000, the unique, dual-immersion K-6 charter school (students split their time evenly between learning in English and Spanish) had its charter expire recently and, according to the school’s Governance Committee President Lee Fleming, it is in danger of not receiving a renewal from the district due to low scores on state standardized tests.

Needless to say, we were rather surprised to hear the news, especially since we have an agreement with the board that they will look at indicators beyond just the basic test results,” explained Fleming. While it is true that the school’s test results have been below both district and state averages for several years running, the most current round of Academic Performance Indicators and STAR testing show improvement. And, according to Fleming, when you peel back the layers of the test results and take into consideration the unique circumstances of Cesar Ch¡vez (like the fact that kids don’t start taking reading classes in English until third grade even though testing begins in second grade), the picture is not nearly as grim as first indicated. The School Board is scheduled to discuss the issue on November 10.

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