Charter School Students and Tests
May 20th, 2009

As charter schools receive enthusiastic backing from the Obama administration and the city relies increasingly on them, it has become an article of faith that the publicly funded, privately operated schools work. But an analysis by Vanessa Witenko for Inside Schools casts doubt on their much ballyhooed success.

Earlier this month, the state released test scores showing impressive results for kids in charter schools, with 77 percent meeting standards compared with 69 percent of students in regular public schools, according to one account. But Witenko’s analysis raises questions about the validity of the comparison. She found that charter schools are less likely to enroll homeless students, English language learners and special education students than the city’s regular public schools.

For example, only 111 of New York’s 51,316 homeless public school students attend charters. Similarly 14 to 17 percent of school kids are learning English but only 3 percent of them go to charters. Twenty-five charter schools dont educate any students who require assistance learning English.

The city comptroller’s office discovered that 15 charters had no special education students but the state refused to release more comprehensive numbers on charter students with disabilities, telling Witenko, We have the data, but its not something that we make public on our website.

Juan Gonzalez raised similar concerns about charter school enrollment earlier this month, writing, “To compare charter schools with such skewed demographics to regular public schools is a bogus apples-to-oranges comparison — and charter school advocates need to admit that.”

By on May 20, 2009, 3:28 pm
In category: Education,Gotham City,Measuring UP | 3 Comments »

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3 Responses to “Charter School Students and Tests”

  1. Janet Says:
    May 20th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Even if the demographics match, the home of the child whose parent has sought out a charter school (rather than sending the child to a zoned school) values education. No surprise that s/he does better in school. It’s much more likely that s/he has a quiet place to study at home, has a bedtime, and isn’t given an unreasonable number of chores which would interfere with studying.

  2. Daniel Millstone Says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 8:56 am

    This is a good start at understanding test score differences. Thanks for this and for alerting us to the underlying report which is very interesting.

  3. Christina Says:
    July 17th, 2009 at 9:39 am

    That was my first thought when I see all these statistics, too. However, the most comprehensive, independent study I have found on NYC charters actually compares charter school statistics with children who applied to charters and were not admitted, not just to the entire population. These families value education just the same if they applied. The study still shows that charter students perform better than those who applied but were not admitted. I am not a charter advocate or opponent…just letting you know. I forget the name of the study, but if you search “NYC charter schools evaluation” or something like that, I am sure it will come up easily.

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