April 6, 2007
By ROBERT A. FRAHM, Courant Staff Writer
A small experimental charter school in Hartford that has made encouraging gains in test scores won a five-year renewal of its state-approved charter Wednesday.
The State Board of Education voted to renew the charter of Jumoke Academy, a school where officials say a longer school day, strong support from parents and an emphasis on tutoring have contributed to the school's academic improvement.
"We're extremely happy to offer to Hartford kids this kind of excellence in education," Principal Doreen Crawford said after the board renewed the charter for Jumoke, one of three state-supported charter schools that were up for review before the board.
The board also granted renewals to Odyssey Community School in Manchester and Common Ground High School in New Haven.
At Jumoke, where most of the students come from low-income families, the results of last year's state mastery test, especially in fourth grade, improved markedly. About 60 percent of fourth-graders met the state goal in math, 53 percent in reading and 72 percent in writing - rates far above the overall scores for Hartford schools and above the state average in math and writing.
Jumoke, Odyssey and Common Ground all opened a decade ago and were among the first public charter schools in the state created under a 1996 law. Today, there are 16 small state-supported charter schools in Connecticut.
Jumoke enrolls 322 children from kindergarten through seventh grade, Odyssey has 175 students in grades 4 through 8, and Common Ground has 145 students in grades 9 through 12.
Charter schools are part of a nationwide movement allowing educators to set up experimental schools that are supported by public dollars but operate independently - free of many of the bureaucratic and union rules that govern most schools.
In Connecticut, the schools are free to experiment with curriculum and school organization but are subject to performance reviews. Like public schools, they must administer the Connecticut Mastery Test to students and submit financial and other records to the state. The state can revoke the charters of schools not meeting satisfactory standards.
According to reports given to the state board Wednesday, Jumoke, Odyssey and Common Ground all had taken steps to comply with recommendations made by state review teams, including efforts to strengthen regular testing programs.
The state board, however, limited the renewals at Odyssey and Common Ground to three years after state reviewers said they want to see greater improvement in scores on annual statewide tests.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at