Helen Thackston Middle and New Hope Academy charter schools have asked to expand their schools in the past year, as families have been clamoring to get students enrolled.

Both charter schools faced stiff opposition from the York City School Board, as the board denied those requests. The board also denied New Hope's five-year charter renewal.

In both cases, board president Margie Orr said, the board was not pleased with the charter schools' academic performance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams.

The latest PSSA results seem to continue that trend. All York City charter schools that participated in the test -- Thackston, New Hope and Lincoln Elementary -- failed to meet state standards. It is the second year in a row that has happened.

A fourth, Crispus Attucks' YouthBuild Charter School, doesn't take the academic test because it is a dropout recovery program. But the school failed the PSSA's graduation rate and attendance portions.

York Academy Regional Charter School, which served grades K-2 last year, did not need to take the test.

Some reason to cele brate: "Our scores aren't what we had hoped," said Thackston principal Jamy Jackson. "In the same token, there are a lot of things to celebrate."

Thackston made Adequate Yearly Progress toward student proficiency goals in its first year of existence, but has failed to make it in the two years since. Proficient means a student can do grade level work.


Jackson pointed to her school meeting most of its AYP targets in reading as a reason to celebrate. And, when compared to the city's middle schools' performance, Thackston comes out on top, particularly in reading.

"We're still ahead of the district," Jackson said.

Thackston officials are appearing before the state charter appeals board at 1 p.m. Tuesday to see if they can get the city school board's decision overturned. The school serves students in grades five through nine and Thackston is looking to add 10th-12th grades, a proposal the school board denied earlier this year.

End goal, not AYP: Lincoln Elementary, the feeder school for Thackston, performed in the middle of the pack in math proficiency when compared to York City elementary schools. But the school was at the bottom of that group in reading proficiency. Principal George Fitch deferred comment until school officials could discuss the data further.

New Hope Academy chief academic officer Karen Schoonover said the results were "disappointing." The fifth to 12th grade school has never met AYP.

But scores are showing improvement, Schoonover said, and officials feel confident they are adequately preparing students for life after high school.

"We're really focused on making progress with each of our students," she said. As for the AYP performance, Schoonover said she believes the state charter appeal board will look at other factors in New Hope's track record. The graduation rate at New Hope is above 90 percent, and 84 percent of their graduates go on to college, a trade school or the military, she said.

More than half of New Hope's students who took the PSSA last spring had enrolled within about 16 months of taking the test, she added. Charter school students inherently are more likely be students who struggled at their last school and came to a charter school because their family sought a change, Schoonover said. New Hope needs time to get them on track, she said.

Crispus Attucks' YouthBuild Charter School CEO Jacquie Martino-Miller said the school has been using a mentorship program to pair students with community members in hopes of keeping the students engaged in school.

And Martino-Miller said YouthBuild would rather keep their 109 students in the credit recovery program longer to make sure they get a solid education rather than push them through so they graduate with their peers; the state's graduation rate is based on graduating with cohorts.

"We want to prepare them for the world," she said.

-- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com

Proficiency scores for charter schools were as follows:

* Helen Thackston Middle: 51.7 percent math; 44.7 percent reading

* Lincoln Elementary: 70.9 math; 45.7 reading

* New Hope Academy: 34.2 percent math; 36.1 reading

* Crispus Attucks YouthBuild Charter school failed to make AYP based on graduation rate and attendance factors.

York City schools:

* Davis: 69.5 percent math/52.5 percent reading

* Devers: 79.3 percent math/ 60.8 percent reading

* Edgar Fahs Smith: 49.4 percent math/ 38.6 percent reading

* Ferguson: 62.8 percent math/ 48.2 percent reading

* Goode: 70.9 percent math/ 55.1 percent reading

* Hannah Penn: 47.3 percent math/ 34.2 percent reading

* Jackson: 53.6 percent math/ 46.4 percent reading

* McKinley: 69.5 percent math/ 51.5 percent reading

* William Penn: 34.2 percent math/ 35.5 percent reading