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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wonder how Rhode Island would do if the state audited it’s charter schools?

A reader informs us that the auditor of Massachusetts recently released an audit of the state’s charter schools. Our reader offers some of the findings:

“Suzanne M. Bump, Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has finished her audit of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE’s) oversight of the Commonwealth’s charter school system.

“Since 1996, Massachusetts has spent $4.3 billion on charters, and this report shows that DESE—known for its emphasis with local public school districts on data collection and data-driven-decision-making—doesn’t ensure (maybe they can’t) ensure the collection, storage, security, reliability, validity or the dissemination of THEIR data. 


"Such data has been the used to determine policy affecting the future of Massachusetts School Districts since 2009.

"Here’s just a sampling of the report says:

  • Charter school waitlist information maintained by DESE is not accurate. A lack of accurate waitlist information may result in ineffective planning and oversight, as well as policymaking consequences such as an inaccurate assessment of demand when charter school approval, renewal, or expansion applications are considered and when the Legislature makes decisions on changes to existing limitations on the number of charter schools.
  • Operating under different statutory requirements, charter schools have lower percentages of licensed teachers than traditional public schools.
  • Additionally, charter school teacher salary levels average 75% of those at sending districts.
  • The reliability and accuracy of charter school information in DESE’s data systems are questionable.
  • The extent to which the charter school system has provided a successful mechanism for developing and disseminating replicable innovation models is not determinable.
  • DESE was inconsistent in its decisions regarding whether to impose conditions for school charter renewal.