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One of Rhode Island’s first charter schools is closing

A student rides a school bus on a cold winter morning.David L Ryan, Globe Staff

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Happy Thursday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I now think Ed Cooley should be president and governor and mayor. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

A Providence charter school that has for years faced pressure from the state to improve student outcomes has opted to close its doors at the end of the school year.


The Academy for Career Exploration, which was one of Rhode Island’s first charter schools when it opened in 1997 as the Textron Chamber of Commerce Academy, informed the state Department of Education last month that it would close rather than craft a reform plan that might have kept it open.

The high school serves more than 200 students, but Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green had reservations about extending its charter because of low performance, including a zero percent proficiency rate in math. Nearly 38 percent of students were considered chronically absent last school year.

"This decision has not been made lightly, and ACE’s Board of Directors believes that it is in the best interest of ACE’s students and faculty to act now to ensure that each ACE family, student, and faculty member has the best opportunity to consider and settle their respective situation for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond,” board chairman Joe Devine wrote in a letter to Infante-Green.

The closure of ACE will likely send a message to other struggling charter schools.

While opponents of charters have long criticized state leaders for placing too much of a focus on struggling traditional public schools, the reality is that the Department of Education has tried to address poor performing charters in the past.


In 2012, then-commissioner Deborah Gist recommended that ACE’s charter not be renewed because of poor math scores, but she was overruled by the state’s education board.


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