On Monday, January 10th, 2016, Director John Heffernan shared the process and results of Central Park School for Children's (CPSC) efforts to be a more economically diverse charter school with the North Carolina Charter Advisory Board. The results so far have been encouraging, with greater socioeconomic diversity in our student body, and positive outcomes for our economically disadvantaged students.
After John's presentation, the Charter Advisory Board voted to approve a new policy that allows any North Carolina charter school to follow CPSC's economic diversity initiative through a lottery amendment process.
What is CPSC's Economic Diversity Initiative?
In 2013, CPSC instituted a weighted admissions lottery, in which students whose families qualify for the National School Lunch Program (free and reduced price meals) are given priority for a certain number of seats in each grade. This initiative counters the over-representation of middle- and high-income families in CPSC's applicant pool.
- to develop a student body that reflects Durham County's diversity, and positively leverages its differences
- because economically diverse learning communities lead to better outcomes for all students
- to fulfill the mandate of the Charter School legislation — to provide increased learning opportunities for all students “with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for students who are identified as at risk of academic failure”
We planned a gradual increase in the number of seats set aside for students who qualify for the National School Lunch Program:
- Year 1 (2013-14): 15%
- Year 2 (2014-15): 25%
- Year 3 (2015-16): 30%
- Year 4 (2016-17): 40%
What Are the Outcomes So Far?
OUTCOME #1 - INCREASED SOCIO-ECONOMIC DIVERSITY
- Year 0 (2012-13): 6%
- Year 1 (2013-14): 8%
- Year 2 (2014-15): 12%
- Year 3 (2015-16): 18%
OUTCOME #2 - STUDENT PERFORMANCE
Although the achievement gap still exists, in the first two years of the initiative, CPSC’s economically disadvantaged students (EDS) have the highest EOG proficiency rate of all twelve Durham charter schools.
- 56.3% of EDS proficient in 3rd - 5th grade (2013-14)
- 54.5% of EDS proficient in 3rd - 6th grade (2014-15)
OUTCOME #3 - EQUITY OF OPPORTUNITY AND RESOURCE
In the three years since implementation, we have provided:
- Transportation to students who would be unable to attend CPSC if transportation were not provided
- Nutrition: free & reduced price lunches and milk for all eligible students
- Child Care: over $30,000 in scholarships for AfterSchool and Camps
We are proud to be the first charter school in the Southeast to implement an economic diversity initiative. Our approach has sparked the interest of other southeastern charter schools.
To learn more, read this report from the Poverty & Race Research Council and the Century Foundation: "Diverse Charter Schools: Can Racial and Socioeconomic Integration Promote Better Outcomes for Students?" by Richard D Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, 2012.