The future of Green Valley Charter School rests on whether the Los Banos Unified School District board believes the charter is succeeding despite a push to close the school by the state charter school association, citing poor student performance.
Green Valley’s five-year charter, approved by the Los Banos school board in September 2011, is up for renewal.
The charter school sent a renewal request Dec. 22, and Los Banos trustees are expected to vote Feb. 9.
During a public hearing at Thursday’s board meeting in Los Banos, a representative of the California Charter Schools Association recommended the board not renew the charter.
Jeff Sands, CCSA Central Valley regional director, said the advocacy agency, which tracks the progress and effectiveness of charter schools in the state, was calling for the school to be shuttered .
“We’re calling for the nonrenewal and closure of Green Valley Charter School,” Sands said Friday. “Nobody wants to see a school close, but the work of preparing our kids is too urgent to spend time fixing low-performing schools.”
Charter schools have three basic requirements to remain in good standing: scoring higher than the 40th percentile on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium results; increasing at least 15 points on test scores compared with the state average for meeting standards; and having student scores that fall within, or higher than, projections compared with similar students.
According to CCSA data, Green Valley scored in the bottom 3 percent on the SBAC results, fell overall by 28.5 points from 2015 to 2016, and scored lower on a “Similar Students Measure” compared with students in the Los Banos school district.
Sands also said the CCSA’s data team determined the information in Green Valley’s Multiple Measure Review wasn’t compelling enough to remove it from a nonrenewal list.
In addition to Green Valley, five other California charter schools are on the CCSA’s 2016 nonrenewal list.
Officials and supporters of Green Valley defended it from the CCSA designation, noting several personal examples of students succeeding in the Waldorf-based school and claiming the CCSA was focusing too much on test scores.
“The test scores might not be great but they’re improving,” Green Valley Principal Andrew Meza said. “We don’t use it as an excuse, but as a reason. I believe we bring a great choice to Los Banos.”
Green Valley board member Don Goin rebuked the CCSA nonrenewal recommendation, noting that Waldorf education is known for starting out with low test scores.
Tisha Blackwood-Freitas, former CEO and founder of Green Valley, fought back tears as she recounted how her three children had succeeded in Green Valley.
“State testing is one window,” Blackwood-Freitas said. “That window was blurred by the state.”
Blackwood-Freitas said internal data would show that the school is doing well. Los Banos Superintendent Dean Bubar said the district was having trouble obtaining data, so he asked Meza to send whatever they had.
In an interview Friday, Sands denied that the CCSA is looking only at the data.
Sands said internal data that explained the school’s circumstances was, or should have been, submitted as part of the Multiple Measure Review. When asked for details on the documents Green Valley sent, Sands said that data is not public.
Sands also said Waldorf educators have previously concluded that the CCSA’s measures account for the teaching style.
The Los Banos school board heard testimony Thursday, but will vote on the charter Feb. 9.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562