Listening to some people on Facebook you’d think Gateway Charter Schools are a terrible place to send your kids.

The social media website is filled with complaints and grievances about Gateway Charter School (k-5), Gateway Intermediate Charter School (6-8) and Gateway Charter High School – all part of the Charter Schools USA organization, who are based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Several parents even expressed their jubilation once their children had been removed from the charter schools and began attending a Lee County public school. Plenty of other unflattering comments exist advising parents not to send their kids to Gateway Charter in the first place.

But are these complaints based on things like the long parent pick-up line, or are parents questioning whether kids get a good education at Gateway Charter?

A recent report called “Great By Choice” by Charter Schools USA gave two thumbs up to all three of its Gateway institutions, but the report could be deemed self-serving for obvious reasons. So the Sun took the time to go through the results from the 2014 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, better known as FCAT.

Here’s what we found.

NOTE: The ‘score‘ columns represent the percentage of students who got a passing grade or higher. Mobile phone users may have to turn their phone sideways to view all data.

2014 FCAT READING TEST (grades 3-10 tested)

Grade FL students FL score GC students GC score
3 209852 57 235 60
4 196786 61 220 68
5 195750 61 244 51
6 195645 60 268 68
7 200981 57 272 64
8 199937 57 264 63
9 200714 53 217 51
10 189031 55 180 54

Gateway Charter students in grades 4, 6, 7 and 8 excelled in the reading tests – soundly beating the average in Florida. Gateway was also slightly above Florida’s average in grade 3.

The grade 9 and 10 students at Gateway Charter tested slightly below the rest of the state, while our grade 5 kids struggled compared to the Florida average.

2014 FCAT MATH TEST (grades 3-8 tested)

Grade FL students FL score GC students GC score
3 209724 58 235 67
4 196845 63 220 58
5 195622 56 243 51
6 194759 53 269 48
7 193140 56 272 64
8 167173 47 268 62

In math Gateway Charter seemed to either beat the Florida average by a huge margin, or they were quite far behind.

The grades that Gateway Charter were well ahead: 3, 7 and 8

Grades where the scores were not so good at the math portion of the 2014 FCAT for Gateway: 4, 5 and 6

The math and reading test statistics were compiled by the Florida Department of Education and include over a million students. It was not immediately clear why 199,937 grade 8 students took the reading FCAT while only 167,173 students in that grade took the math FCAT.

Over-all Gateway Charter’s kids did just fine, but despite the reasonably good FCAT scores the elementary and middle schools were given a C grade while the high school was given a B by the Florida Department of Education in its most recent grading announcement. The middle school missed getting a B grade by less than 1% of the score needed.

Between the three schools, those are the lowest grades Gateway Charter has had in the past 5 years (possibly longer – we did not check back further than 5 years ago).

The Sun reached out to the corporate offices at Charter Schools USA to find out what changes they had planned in order to bring the schools’ B and C grades up.

“Changes at the schools are driven by the principal [Sara Abraham] and are supported by the Charter Schools USA support center. The education team comes out to the school to offer support and assistance with curriculum development and achievement,” explained Deb Tracy, who heads up the SWFL area for Charter Schools USA.

For her part, Abraham sounds upbeat about the changes she’s implemented.

“All Gateway Charter Schools are on track to record a successful 2014-2015 school year. Our students are provided with a guaranteed and viable curriculum, and our benchmark results show student success. We are excited to enter the 3rd quarter with our focus on continued student achievement,” says Abraham.

After looking at no less than 14 different spreadsheets of data from the 2014 FCAT it’s clear there are schools in Florida that are an academic disaster. The Gateway Charter Schools do not fit that description.

In fact, they don’t even come close.

From the available statistics the elementary and middle schools are slightly above average schools compared to the rest of Florida.

The high school’s reading scores (they were not tested in math) are basically average. Combine all that with the fact the high school graduation rate is 96% at Gateway Charter (compared to Florida’s 76% state-wide graduation rate) and it’s pretty clear that – while Gateway Charter isn’t perfect – things could be worse.

There will always be parents who have valid concerns about Gateway Charter, but they don’t need to be too worried about how the student body as a whole is doing in the classrooms.

Perhaps someone should post that on Facebook.

DISCLAIMER: The writer of this article has children who attend Gateway Charter Schools.

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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