Carson City, NV January 26, 2017
Late last night, the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) and Nevada Achievement School District (NVASD) became aware of a formal investigation into Celerity Educational Group in California through a story in the Los Angeles Times.
The Los Angeles Times story was posted at 8:30 p.m. and a letter revoking Celerity Schools Nevada application to operate a charter school in the Achievement School District was sent at 10:44 p.m.
As a result of last night’s revocation of Celerity’s application, the NV ASD will not move forward with the pairing process for conversion for any of the five schools that were moved forward by the State Board of Education on December 15. The Nevada Achievement School District was scheduled to make an announcement of matched schools on February 1.
“Over the past two years the Nevada Achievement School District has only approved three out of ten applications to serve Nevada students,” said Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction. “Last night’s revocation of the Celerity application demonstrates the Nevada Achievement School District’s continued commitment to quality.”
The Nevada Achievement School District is designed to create an avenue for great teachers, leaders, and school operators to serve our State’s most historically underserved student populations. In its first year, the NV ASD worked in partnership with the State Board to narrow a list of eligible schools and executed a thorough and deliberative charter operator vetting process. The NV ASD team worked with a panel of external reviewers. These reviewers examined both the academic results and operational practices of each of the NV ASD applicants.
The Nevada Achievement School District is already making strides to fulfill its mission. Next school year Futuro Academy Charter School, operated by a Las Vegas teacher and Building Excellent Schools Fellow, will open its doors to kindergartners in a new building in East Las Vegas, Democracy Prep Public Schools, a high quality, nationally recognized operator that runs schools in New York and Louisiana has already partnered with Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy and will begin to implement its proven model at the start of the 2017-18 school year.
“The Nevada Achievement School District looks forward to working with both Democracy Prep and Futuro Academy to successfully open their schools in the fall,” said Nevada Achievement School District Superintendent in Residence Jana Wilcox Lavin. “Democracy Prep has a remarkable track record of success serving similar student populations and it is an honor to work with local Nevada talent like Futuro Academy which has a strong plan in place to provide a new school option in a neighborhood whose families currently do not have a high quality school.”
According to the most recently available state data, on average schools that are eligible for consideration for the Achievement School District two (2) out of ten (10) students read on grade level; one (1) out of ten (10) students execute math on grade level; one (1) out of ten (10) students with a special education designation are proficient in either reading or math; and, four (4) out of one hundred (100) students are college ready according to the ACT. Additionally, our Rising Star schools experience approximately five (5) violent or serious incidents per 100 students. More information about how schools are performing is available through the Nevada State Report Card.
Background on Celerity Schools Nevada’s Application to the Nevada Achievement School District:
Celerity Schools was recruited by the Nevada Harbor Master to apply for approval to become an achievement charter school in 2016.
Celerity Schools was conditionally approved to join the NV ASD based on their prior student achievement results, which demonstrate their ability to drive dramatic growth in student achievement in California and Louisiana.
Celerity provided close to 300 pages of financial information including audits for each campus and the three most recent audits for their charter management organization (CMO). These materials are publicly available.
In November, Celerity Schools was recommended by the California Department of Education and approved by the California State Board of Education to open two new campuses in 2017-18 with nine yes votes and one abstention.
Celerity Schools has had strong academic results, including all of their California schools outperforming the Los Angeles Unified School District in Math and six of seven are outperforming the district in Reading; of their Louisiana Schools two were designated “top gains” schools for the progress made in 2015-16. Based on these results, the Celerity team secured letters of support from local education experts and partners.
BACKGROUND ON THE NEVADA ACHIEVEMENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
NVASD, which was authorized by AB 448 during the 2015 Legislature, partners with communities, families and approved school operators to transform the state’s lowest performing schools beginning in the 2017-18 school year. The goal of the initiative is to provide high quality options to the students who need it most and turn chronically underperforming schools into high-quality, in-neighborhood schools that provide exceptional opportunities for students and prepare them for success in the global 21st century. The NVASD does this through neighborhood school transformation, the addition and expansion of high-quality in-neighborhood seats and partnering with local districts on current and future efforts to change the trajectory of underperforming schools.
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