Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 2, 2015

Head of the class count

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

The other day someone posted about the Academy of Alameda and an email that was sent to AoA supporters regarding the elementary school program at AoA.  Now, I’ve been pretty quiet about AoA’s elementary school program even though it is in direct competition to — what I believe — are two really strong AUSD offerings in the neighborhood school department.  Plus, I was not in love with the section in the AoA elementary school proposal that dissed the local neighborhood school outcomes front when I know that the people who sit on the Boards of AoA know good and well what the numbers mean and that they chose to misrepresent it so badly was very disappointing to me.

But since it came up I thought I would address the topic of the Prop 39 request for space for AoA’s elementary school program.  So a bit of a refresher for those not up to date on charter school stuff. Every year charter schools must request space for their school from their chartering agency.  In this case AUSD.  Of course Nea and ACLC worked out a long term lease deal with AUSD so they no longer need to go through this process.  In this case they need 80 in district students to trigger any accommodation by the school district.

Long story short, AUSD staff believes that the numbers presented by AoA for the elementary program only is not reasonable based on historic data and the use of “cohort survival” methodology to predict enrollment.

The AoA Middle School used the cohort survival methodology to estimate their enrollment for next year, but for the elementary school they were a little bit more…generous:

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 1.33.03 PM

Here’s how the AoA Middle School numbers were constructed:

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 1.35.06 PM

Even though for the 6th grade which is the “starting year” for the Middle School used essentially the same number from the 2015-16 actual enrollment, for Kindergarten AoA overestimate their 2015-16 projection and again projected more than they actually enrolled for 2015-16.   Then AoA also doubled the number of 2nd graders that they believed would attend the next year even though cohort survival would simply apply the actual enrollment to the next grade level.

Added to that the District used historic information from Nea which has an all-day Kindergarten like AoA that showed a reduction between Kindergarten and 1st grade because a percentage of parents take advantage of the all day Kindergarten and then return to their neighborhood school at the conclusion of Kindergarten.  This is the number the the District felt was reasonable:

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 1.53.17 PM

I mean even if the District were to not overlay the Nea historic data on the AoA projections, they are still under the 80 student threshold.  While the lawyer for AoA indicated that AoA presented signed intent forms, the district, I imagine also has signed intent forms every single year for every single school and a percentage of those families that sign an intent form don’t end up sending their kid to the school they said they would.

At this point, unless AoA starts actively enrolling kids and has that data to support their numbers the only reasonable thing to do is use the same methodology that AoA uses to project their Middle School enrollment for their elementary school program and it comes up short.

I want to point out that in the email from AoA regarding this issue they brought up a quote by one of the School Board members.  The ironic thing about the negative quote was that it was paired with a vote to approve the charter for Alternatives in Action, a public charter school that supports high school students that supports students that have not been successful in traditional high schools.



  1. The squeeze is on…West End, historically poor test scores, more vibrant competing programs, lower socio- economic group, less political power=trouble for AoA. But Wood stayed open with similar conditions…

    Comment by Captain Obvious — December 2, 2015 @ 6:25 am

  2. “vibrant”, grrrr. When NEA started it wasn’t enough to be the elementary compliment to ACLC, they had a plan to be k-12, because they are so vibrant. How’s that going ? Here they come!

    Maybe Zuckerberg will buy AoA a building at Marina Village.

    Comment by MI — December 2, 2015 @ 7:52 am

  3. Here only to note that the link has nothing to do with Nea, which is not run by VCs/hedge fund bros or by a for-profit organization. Not all charters are the same.

    Comment by gaylon — December 2, 2015 @ 8:23 am

  4. We are a satisfied AoA middle school family but I completely agree with Lauren’s detailed analysis above.

    I have been very uncomfortable about the elementary school program since learning about it last year as a 6th grade parent. I would have much preferred that the Board of Directors and administration focus on making the middle school program truly excellent, in the most well-rounded sense. Our child did not go to Paden or Ruby Bridges so I have no inherent allegiance to those programs. But the expansion of AoA into an elementary (and eventually a high school) comes at a significant community price and I just don’t see that they are addressing an unresolvable educational gap on the West End to justify that.

    Comment by Dya — December 2, 2015 @ 8:55 am

  5. Yeah, “vibrant”. What does that mean? Something that vibrates? I am sick of that word as of yesterday. Let’s stop using words that convey no useful information.

    Comment by vigi — December 2, 2015 @ 9:42 am

  6. 3. I don’t think there is any confusion here, but my reference to NEA was with specific regard to their great ambition and the fact that they set their sights a little high. Their “Upper Village” is grades 6-12 and their site says the population is 30 to 60. It is entirely relevant to this discussion as a comparison.

    No, all charters are not the same other than the fact that every child who leaves the public system for a charter takes state ADA funds with them. Just a fact. Think of it in these terms. The upkeep of the district at large has fixed costs like administration, etc. Our ratio of admin dollar costs per student has been comparatively good but since we are at the low end compared to other districts, every dollar siphoned away by charters has to make it harder, yet the rhetoric is that the public system should learn to compete, or else. Or else even MORE students will leave and take their ADA funds with them. It starts to be a numbers game. The people who launched NEA were involved with ACLC from the start and it was started with funds from Aurthur Andersen (

    Comment by MI — December 2, 2015 @ 6:41 pm

  7. Very true! The numbers lost from each school for Academy of Alameda’s new elementary (or any charter school) are enough to impact resources, classes and hiring and diversion at those neighborhood schools. Once a neighborhood school loses an FTE (full time employee), or is forced to have a split class…the students and community are lastingly affected. There’s that 1 to 1 loss. But the corresponding loss of ADA is not just “1 to 1” and affects all AUSD students throughout the district; affecting elementary, middle, and high schools across the board.

    Comment by Jane Grimaldi — December 3, 2015 @ 8:21 am

  8. Thank you Jane.

    I fully understand that parents want to exercise the choices they have and to seek the very best programs for their children. That is a very, very basic impulse which in my mind goes to a level of instinct. It’s primal. The problem I have is that people seem to lose their ability to think critically when dealing with such choices and so there appears to be a disconnect. If parents chose a charter they need to remember that all choices are not equal, like picking off some menu of options, and there are real impacts to various choices beyond the quality of their child’s classroom experience, which may effect other people’s children. Whatever choice parents make they should try to keep the big picture of how the public system is effected. When people focus on the rhetoric about how “public schools must learn to compete”, that is an over simplification.

    Comment by MI — December 3, 2015 @ 9:15 am

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