Charter School Praised by First Lady, DeVos, Closing Due To Poor Academic Performance

Pablo Martinez MonsivalsAP Images

Less than nine months after Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos praised a Washington D. C. charter school as a “shining example” of what can happen when parents are provided with choice, the school is being closed due to its poor academic performance, according to a WJLA report.

The all-girl pre-kindergarten through eighth grade Excel Academy’s test scores were already on a downward spiral when DeVos, First Lady Melania Trump and Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan visited it in April.

The group participated in a listening session with teachers, parents, and students and visited classrooms.

The First Lady praised Excel as an “exceptional example” of providing young women with the opportunity to succeed in the global community.

That success did not translate to the school’s test scores, according to the District of Columbia Charter Public School Board, which in a release revealing its decision at its January 11 meeting described Excel as having “low academic achievement and school climate.”

The report cited the schools’ consistently poor math scores and English language arts scores, which were higher than math, but had been falling below average.

The board reviews the charters of each school every five years and determined that Excel Academy did not reach the goals it set for itself five years ago, including 45 percent success on the Performance Management Frame.

The school reached that goal its first year but has seen declining test scores in subsequent years, falling to a low of 37 percent during the 2016-2017 school year.

The board voted on November 20 to initiate revocation proceedings and then held a public hearing to receive input before making its decision.

DeVos selected the school for the visit by the First Lady and Jordan’s queen, not only because of its all-female enrollment but also because it fit into her emphasis on school choice and charter schools rather than traditional public education.

Excel Academy, praised by First Lady Melania Trump will close at the end of the school year.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and First Lady Melania Trump speak with a student during an April 2017 visit to Excel Academy, an all-girls charter school.Featured image credit: Pablo Martinez MonsivalsAP Images

DeVos and President Donald Trump have emphasized school choice as the direction in which they want to lead the nation’s education since the Senate confirmed her as Secretary of Education.

Despite the impending closing of Excel Academy scheduled for the end of the school year and studies that consistently show that charter schools perform no better and often much worse than public schools, Trump signed a proclamation today declaring this week as National School Choice Week.

At a rally last week to kick off National School Choice Week, DeVos urged those attending to spread the word about the importance of school choice.