Neerav Kingsland, chief strategy officer of New Schools for New Orleans, has a short post on the lessons of the success of Sci Academy and the failure of Sojourner Truth Academy, two charter high schools that opened their doors in 2008. The graduating class of 2012 will be the last for STA while Sci Academy is now opening two spin-off schools in the city:
In 2012, Sci and STA graduated their first senior classes. Nearly 95% of Sci seniors will attend four year universities and 88% will be the first generation in their family to do so. STA seniors did not fare as well. Less than 30% of STA students were on grade level by the end of 2011. The school suffered from high rates of suspensions, expulsions, and dropouts – and it barely avoided mid-year bankruptcy. For STA, its first graduating class of seniors will be its last: the State announced it would revoke the charter and close the school. NSNO supported this decision – the school was not serving kids at the level they deserved.
Kingsland is careful to acknowledge that the closure of STA has been a difficult process that has been particularly hard on students who now have to transition to other schools, and who suffered from low-quality instruction. But the trial-and-error process of launching new school models is nevertheless the best way to deliver improved performance system-wide.