SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 12, 2012

Making the case for another charter school

Editor’s note: Pioneer Charter School of Science has requested state permission to open another charter school in Saugus that would accept students from Salem, Peabody, Danvers, Lynn and Saugus. If approved, the school would open in September 2013.

The 2010 state education reform law raised the cap on charter public schools to encourage expansion of high-quality charters in low-performing school districts. A proposal currently before the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would allow Pioneer Charter School of Science to replicate its successful model to serve families in Salem, Danvers, Lynn, Peabody and Saugus.

PCSS was founded in 2007 with a mission “to prepare educationally under-resourced students for today’s competitive world.” It currently serves 360 students in grades seven through 12, most of them from Everett, Revere and Chelsea.

PCSS has lived up to its mission, consistently outperforming both statewide averages and district averages on MCAS exams. In 2012, PCSS ranked among the top 10 schools in the entire state on several MCAS measurements designed to gauge academic progress. In addition, 94 percent of PCSS 10th-graders scored proficient or advanced in science, 92 percent in English and 88 percent in math — besting district and statewide averages.

Last year, the commonwealth named PCSS a “commendation school” for narrowing achievement gaps among low-income and minority students. It’s no wonder that Boston Magazine placed the school in its “top of the class” category.

Many PCSS-Everett students come from underprivileged backgrounds. More than half are African-American or Hispanic, about 50 percent come from families whose first language is not English, and around 9 percent have special needs. Many of our students — who are now among the best in Massachusetts — came to PCSS with subpar MCAS scores.

The school helps students develop the academic and social skills necessary to become successful professionals and exemplary members of their communities. PCSS prepares students for success in college and their careers with a rigorous academic curriculum emphasizing math, science and analytical thinking, balanced by a strong foundation in the humanities and a character education program.

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