Making SENSE Of Struggles
Mar 8, 1:00 AM
At the Southeast Neighborhood School of Excellence (SENSE) charter school, imagining what could be has always been part of its mission. In many ways, SENSE, which serves students in Grades K-6, is just what the inventors of charter schools dreamed of -- a community that came together and tried new ways to educate its children. There's been reason to celebrate. The Fountain Square school's ISTEP passing rate steadily rose from one of the worst in the state -- with just 8 percent of kids passing both English and math when it opened in 2004 -- to about half the students passing four years later. But, like many charter schools, SENSE's success is fragile. Last year, its scores dropped after a tumultuous period in which the principal resigned unexpectedly, forcing other staff members to take over administrative functions. Just 39 percent of students passed both parts of the ISTEP, with only 19 percent making "high growth" in reading. SENSE ranked in the bottom 10 percent of all schools in the state on every ISTEP measure of success.