What is a Charter School?
According to the SED website:
Charter schools are publicly funded and open to all students in New York State through a non-discriminatory admissions lottery. Each charter school is governed by a not-for-profit board of trustees which may include educators,community members, and leaders from the private sector. Charters have freedom to establish their own policies, design their own educational program, and manage their human and financial resources. Charter schools are accountable, through the terms of a five-year performance contract, for high student achievement.
Charter schools were established to:
Provide families with an increased number of high quality school choices; The District has a Magnet School (school of choice), a "good Neighbor" policy, and procedures for requesting special permission to attend a different school.
Improve student achievement. The NFHS graduation rate has risen 20 pts in 10 years.
Increase learning opportunities for all students, with an emphasis on at-risk students. So far, charter schools that have been proposed in our community have not proposed one instructional program the District hasn’t already had for years.
Encourage use of innovative teaching methods/educational designs. The District has interactive whiteboards throughout the District, introduced the Workshop Model of Instruction, is focused on applied learning through scientific experimentation and math manipulatives. In addition, the District is currently constructing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) labs in every school.
Create new professional opportunities for teachers, administrators, school staff. The District engages in more professional development for teachers than any district around, and works in partnership with Niagara University to keep teachers’ skills current.
Change from rule-based to performance-based accountability. The District, like every other educational Pre K-12 entity in the State, is highly accountable to the NY State Education Department.
Charter schools can hire up to 30% uncertified teachers.
ALL District teachers are certified in the area in which they teach.
Currently, Niagara Charter takes $3.9 million from the District's operating budget, and has 340 students.
The home district is still responsible to provide all special education services at its own cost. In fact, special education services have to go to the student at the charter school. Whereas Catholic school students receive services, if needed, but those students have to be transported to a public school to receive the services.
Simple educational facts:
All instruction in the NFCSD is data-driven. Utilizing software called Testwiz, teachers can see tabulated results of local assessments immediately. They can see which questions were answered incorrectly ,by how many students, which students, and in what way the answers provided were incorrect. This allows the teacher to either address the individual student’s needs or reteach an entire concept. The District has had TestWiz for three years.
In addition, instruction is driven by data gathered from AIMSweb and WNYRIC Data Warehouse for State testing results. Teachers also use a dozen other programs in classrooms, all of which have reporting components for the teachers to tailor instruction based on evidenced needs. Every school has an Inquiry Team which meets regularly to assess student data and inform instruction.
Literacy Rich Environments
Back in 2001, the District contracted with America’s Choice to implement the Workshop Model of Instruction. This literacy-rich teaching model is used throughout the District, and reading and writing are part of every academic discipline, from English Language Arts to math to technical writing in sciences and so on.
Instruction in literacy in the District begins in full-day Universal Pre-Kindergarten, which has been offered since the early 1990s.
A review of representative charter high schools in New York State has shown each to have a very small population of students with disabilities in proportion to their total “all student” enrollment.
Due to this, the Student with Disabilities cell cannot be reported out for NCLB accountability purposes thereby maximizing the potential to remain “a school in good standing” even with the possibility of the students with disabilities not meeting standard. There are simply not enough students with disabilities to make a complete accountability group to impact on student achievement targets, therefore charters that adhere to this number game officially remain in “good standing.”) This makes for good publicity but is an injustice to both communities served and the neediest of our populations.
Your Niagara Falls Public Schools are among the earliest adopters of evidenced based best practices in instruction, technology, character education, safety, and cost savings measures.
Our community, our school district:
The Niagara Falls City School District