The study found that in 2003, fourth graders in traditional public schools scored an average of 4.2 points better in reading than comparable students in charter schools on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, often called the nation’s report card. Students in traditional schools scored an average of 4.7 points better in math than comparable students in charter schools.
Students in charter schools that said they were affiliated with local school districts did better than those in schools largely independent from local systems, scoring on par with children in regular public schools in reading and math.
The study also compared traditional public schools with charter schools in central cities serving mostly minority students and found no significant difference in reading achievement at the different schools. However, math scores at such urban charter schools still lagged those at traditional schools, except when those charters were affiliated with local districts.
“We know they are not doing harm,” Mr. Schneider said of charter schools, “so they pass a fundamental test of policy analysis.”
But this was weak praise considering that proponents of charter schools have long argued that students at these institutions would show progress far greater than those at neighborhood schools. . . .
How to judge the relative performance of public, charter and private schools has been a touchy issue for the department since 2004, when it initially avoided publicizing results from the 2003 assessment that were largely unfavorable to charters.
The teachers’ union ferreted those results out of the department’s Web site, showing that students in charters were largely trailing those in regular public schools. After the federation reported the scores, the department issued its own report confirming their accuracy.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
More on Charter School Research
Both USA Today and the New York Times have stories on the NCES study on performance scores of charter schools. Here are some clips from the Times story: