Dear Commons Community,
A new study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) concludes that New York City charter schools are outperforming other charter schools across the country. As highlighted in a New York Times editorial:
“From a national standpoint, the 20-year-old charter school movement has been a disappointment. More than a third of these independently run, publicly funded schools are actually worse than the traditional public schools they were meant to replace. Abysmal charter schools remain open for years, even though the original deal was that they would be shut down when they failed to perform. New York City’s experience, however, continues to be an exception.
For the second time in three years, a rigorous study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes shows that the typical New York City charter school student learns more in a year in reading and math than his or her peers in their neighborhood district schools. The difference, over a typical year, amounts to about a month’s more learning in reading — and a whopping five months’ more learning in math.
That is good news, especially given the fact that about three-quarters of the city’s charter school children come from poor families. But a mixed picture emerged when the Stanford researchers measured charter schools on students’ learning growth (year-to-year improvement) as well as their overall achievement, as compared with the city as whole.
The data show that not all charter schools shared equally in the gains in reading. Nearly half, in fact, turned out to be slow-growth schools that may not be helping low-achieving students improve their reading skills quickly enough. This could lead to those students falling further and further behind.
The Stanford center rocked the education world in 2009 with a national study finding that only 17 percent of charter schools offered students a better education, as measured by test scores, and that an astounding 37 percent offered a worse one. Against this standard, New York is doing well, according to the new study, especially in math, where 63 percent of the charter schools studied outperformed their traditional district schools and only 14 percent performed worse. In reading, however, only 22 percent of the charter schools outpaced their public school counterparts, while 25 percent lagged behind their peer district schools.”
What the New York Times editorial failed to mention was that the New York City charter schools are not representative of traditional schools in terms of the percentages of English Language Learners and Special Education students that they enroll. To quote from the CREDO study:
“a lower proportion of New York City’s charter school population is designated as special education compared to all traditional public schools (TPS), and this proportion is also lower than that of the feeder TPS population. The cause of this difference is unknown. Parents of children with special needs may believe that the TPS sector is better equipped to educate their children and therefore will be less likely to opt out for a charter. An alternate possibility is that charter schools and traditional public schools have different criteria for categorizing special education. In the aggregate, charter schools enroll a smaller share of English language learners than the feeder schools and all of TPS. As with Special Education students, it is not possible to discern the underlying causes for these figures.” (p. 12)
Below is a table from the report comparing the demographics of traditional public schools (TPS), Feeder Schools and Charter Schools in the study.
I would offer that either because of the admissions selection criteria or the push-out policies that some charter schools in New York City engage in cherry-picketing the students they want in their schools.
Click to enlarge