Annual Financial and Achievement Report shows strong performances across network
The Texas Comptroller’s Office has awarded two Uplift schools a coveted 5-star rating for academic progress and financial efficiency during the 2011-12 school year. Uplift Education is North Texas’ largest charter school network, educating 7,500 students in 2012.
Uplift North Hills Preparatory and Uplift Peak Preparatory were 2 of just 45 districts statewide to receive the distinction. A total of 1,000 districts were assessed. Just 30% of the FAST report’s 5-star districts were from the Dallas/Fort Worth region (14 of 45).
This is the third consecutive year Uplift North Hills has earned the distinction and is one of the schools recognized when the report was first released in 2009. Uplift Peak has received the honor two straight years and was included the first year it was eligible.
“This is a real achievement for both of the schools,” Uplift CEO Yasmin Bhatia said. “We only receive 80% of the funds available to non-charter public districts. This means schools like Uplift North Hills, which receives less Title 1 funds, must be as efficient as possible with their budgets. We work tirelessly to minimize unnecessary spending there and at all Uplift schools.”
To receive the rating, districts achieve academic success through integrating the curriculum across all grades and schools, recruiting and retaining effective teachers, putting in place strong financial management practices, and implementing better technology strategies.
Uplift CFO Bill Mays is especially pleased to see the two schools on the FAST 5-star list. “We have one of the lowest costs per student in the region. Most districts are well above $10,000 per student. Our schools routinely come in around $8,000. We are a little higher at our Title 1 campuses, but we are also providing more services there,” he says.
While it will not show up in the FAST assessment until next year, Uplift has made at least one essential change this fall that will continue to help its schools increase efficiency and academic progress. Uplift schools have begun using a national assessment called the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) to track progress.
MAP is less expensive than many of the other assessments offered, which means it can be administered more frequently during the school year. It is also is a computer-based test that adjusts questions based on right and wrong answers to discern a student’s actual achievement level. Paper tests or other non-adaptive tests can only tell a school whether a student is at grade level or not. MAP can actually pinpoint at which grade level a student is based on the right and wrong answers.
“This is one incredibly important change for Uplift schools. We can now get data real time about where our students stand and what to do to further enhance their education. MAP is an essential part of our strategy to close the achievement gap for all of our students,” Ms. Bhatia said.
Mr. Mays expects more of the Uplift schools to join this list in the future as they become eligible for consideration. Schools must be in existence for at least five years to be considered.
About the FAST assessment:
The 2009 Legislature’s House Bill 3 directed the Comptroller to “identify school districts and campuses that use resource allocation practices that contribute to high academic achievement and cost-effective operations.”1 In response, the Comptroller’s office created the Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST) to examine district and campus resource allocation – and the relationship between these allocations and student achievement.