117 superintendent talks on “What’s On Your Mind?” about 8 Points

By Gary Scott on October 30, 2015 at 1:28pm

District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek took some time this morning to address comments made by the principal of 8 Points Charter School this week as the district ponders cutting ties with the school.

The Jacksonville school board authorized Steve Ptacek to prepare a statement of non-renewal with 8 Points during a meeting last week. This week, 8 Points principal Bridget English told parents and students that the charter school board may appeal to the state if the school board finalizes the non-renewal decision.

Ptacek says he’s confident the decision that’s been made will stand in the face of an appeal, and says he’s gotten a more detailed analysis that will go up on vision 117.com to replace the current data he’s posted regarding 8 Points.

“One of the most concerning data tables, I don’t think was fully understood by individuals that are looking at the first report that I have given, I have done that in a more detailed analysis, and I’ve got the data tunneled down to individual student growth. The data’s very concerning,” Ptacek says.

“And it’s not about upstaging. As a matter of fact, the charter school’s original intention was to take- per the contract- a substantial portion of our at-risk kids and do tremendous things with them that the district was not able to do. Then we would learn from them as a potentially learning school, an innovation school, and bring that knowledge back to our schools.

“We wish that would have happened, but the data suggests the charter school is performing worse than any of our elementary schools,” he continues.

On Tuesday, English said District 117 shouldn’t only focus on standardized testing scores and argued that the Illinois Student Achievement Test, or ISAT, shouldn’t be used as a factor because it’s been replaced by a new test. Ptacek offers his thoughts on that.

“I wasn’t here when the charter school was originally developed, but the individuals I’ve spoken to who were, from the district’s angle, one of the concerns was- in the era of mandated state testing and accountability- that the concerns of the district’s performance in state testing was one of the foundations for justifying the expense from the taxpayers to form a charter school, and it was highly included in their main goals, was to increase in learning, increase accountability, right now the charter school’s saying [these things] aren’t important, [they] served as the foundation for the formation of the charter school in the beginning,” Ptacek says.

You can listen to Ptacek’s full “What’s On Your Mind?” interview below.