Board Approves Mammoth Olympic Academy Charter, But Will Watch Closely

A five-year renewal of the Charter of the Mammoth Olympic Academy for Academic Excellence was approved unanimously by the Mammoth Unified School District Board of Education at a special meeting held Monday. The Board agreed to the approval on the grounds that an ongoing dialogue about the progress of the school would be held throughout the next five years.

Shortly after their vote, the Board ( SHOWN HERE AT A PAST MEETING) was able to begin to partake in that dialogue as Jim Barnes, the charter school’s coordinator, gave a presentation on the school’s test scores from last year.

The presentation was part of a workshop session before the Board that evening regarding the test scores for all of Mammoth’s schools. While all of the schools are struggling, especially in math and science, the charter school’s low test scores looked even worse because of the recent discussions surrounding the charter renewal and the future of the school.

“I find this somewhat disturbing,” said Board member Joe Bottom after reviewing test scores from the charter school where juniors had scored zero percent in math and science, and freshman and sophomores were not much better. “It makes you question priorities,” Bottom added after Barnes attempted to explain the low scores by busy ski season schedules for the students, who are mostly athletes, in March and April just before testing.

“We did a review, but this year we’ve realized we need to start that review earlier,” Barnes said.

Bottom stated that while he understood that test scores are not graded like day-to-day school assignments, they should be used as an indicator to whether or not the way the students are being graded is correct.

At this time students at the charter school are graded by the online programs they use to complete their school work. According to School Superintendent Frank Romero, students must perform at a 78 percent to be proficient on a STAR test, which would be about a C+ average in GPA terms.

Mammoth High School on the other hand improved its overall API on last year’s STAR tests by 11 points, reversing a two-year downward trend at the school, according to Principal Mike Agnitch. The biggest area that needs improvement at MHS at this time is the 200 point gap in scores between the Hispanic students and the Caucasian students. Math scores were also low at MHS.

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