When students change schools — as they do all too often in Detroit — their data should travel with them.
That idea has found support from more than one education leader in recent days, raising the prospect of additional cooperation between Detroit’s charter schools and its main district.
Speaking in Detroit before the Michigan Civil Rights Commission on Monday, Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, said information sharing could help alleviate the effects of the large number of students who switch schools in Detroit.
“It would be important to look at citywide records and data systems so that a child has information about themselves when they show up at a school, what they’ve experienced,” he said.
His remarks followed on the heels of similar recommendations made last week by a different charter school official at a forum about school switching in Detroit.
And they came as district leaders have shown an increased willingness to collaborate with charter schools. Earlier this year, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti joined the Community Education Commission, a mayor-led group that has begun operating a bus line in northwest Detroit that carries students to charter and traditional schools.
Vitti has been vocal in his approval for the group’s latest project, a citywide, A-F school grading system that emphasizes student growth over academic proficiency, a system he dubbed “fair and consistent.”
“It’s hard to think about collaboration when you’re in a competitive environment, but we have collaborated on an accountability system,” Vitti said on Monday.
When he took control of Michigan’s largest district last year, Vitti promised to go toe-to-toe with charter schools to recruit students and teachers.
It remains to be seen whether either side would agree to a proposal that, at its most ambitious, could be the most significant district-charter collaboration since an effort to create a common enrollment system succumbed last year to practical hurdles and poisonous politics.
After a failed effort to put the common enrollment system under mayoral control, Quisenberry said there was a “question of trust” between the district and charter schools on the issue.
But he said on Monday that there’s no reason the two can’t work together.
“Everybody thinks, many times falsely, because we were against… putting the mayor in charge, that we’re not interested in cooperating,” he said. “We just don’t think that was necessary.”
After the common enrollment initiative collapsed, some of its supporters regrouped and published a report arguing that a joint data system could help improve teacher hiring and reduce absenteeism.
Now that idea appears to be picking up steam.
Last week, during the forum on students frequently changing schools, education leaders pointed out that when students move — as roughly one in three Detroit elementary schoolers do every year — academic data helps teachers orient them to a new classroom, while enrollment information helps their former school know where they’ve gone and that they’re safe.
Maria Montoya, who is with the charter school office at Grand Valley State University, advocated for a common data system, saying “a child should not disappear with nobody accountable for them, whether it is a traditional school or a charter.”