Charter chatter

Life was rough for charter school supporters immediately after the release of the recent National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) study of charter schools (see here). But newer test results out of Philadelphia and Massachusetts show that all the anti-charter hype was just more hypocrisy. In the City of Brotherly Love, charter schools, which are counted in the district's overall assessment under No Child Left Behind, saw their 2006 test scores dramatically improve over 2005's. They picked up the slack for other district public schools, which showed no gains over last year (such patterns have also occurred in Dayton, Ohio). And 30 percent of Bay State charter pupils performed "significantly higher" than their peers in district schools in reading and math, while another 60 percent performed as well as their district counterparts. Massachusetts Teachers' Association President Anne Wass offered this response to her state's results: "It doesn't put an end to the debate on charter schools by any means." That's reasonable enough--but where was Wass when AFT president Edward McElroy claimed that the NCES study "provides further evidence against unchecked expansion of the charter school experiment"? (Translation: This one study should put an end to the debate on charter schools.) And at least Massachusetts and Philadelphia gauged student performance over time, a more accurate, albeit still imperfect, method of evaluation than the one-time snapshot NAEP data on which the NCES study was based.

"Charters boost city schools' showing," by Susan Snyder, Alletta Emeno, and Dylan Purcell, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 1, 2006

"On exam, charter schools get edge," by Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe, August 31, 2006