In Washington state, the teachers’ union is trying to repeal the new charter school law, reports Shark Blog. The union’s campaign is exploiting statistically meaningless data provided by the American Federation of Teachers to the New York Times. (Scroll down for a photo of Shark’s incredibly cute little boy.)
In the Rocky Mountain News, columnist Linda Seebach jumps in too, adding Colorado test scores which show charter students doing as well as students in conventional schools. There are many unmeasured variables, however. Colorado is working on a system to track individual students’ progress, which would make it possible to compare the effectiveness of different schools over time.
Robert Tagorda and The Torch are on the case too. Tagorda provides an accessible link to the Wall St. Journal op-ed by a trio of Harvard professors, who point out that the data also show the superiority of religious schools to public schools, if interpreted in the same manner as the AFT crunched the charter school scores.
Eduwonk has more links.
California released statewide test scores this week. I compared Downtown College Prep, the charter school in my book, to other high schoools in its district, San Jose Unified. But there’s a catch. All the comprehensive high schools in San Jose created spin-off schools for students at high risk of dropping out when the state accountability system went into force. Sending these students to special programs may be educationally sound. But getting rid of the worst students also is a great way to raise test scores in the comprehensive high schools.
Most Downtown College Prep students start out as high-risk students: 88 percent are Hispanic; nearly half aren’t considered fluent in English. More important, most were D and F students in middle school. DCP scores below the comprehensive high schools, but way above the spin-off schools. If the other schools had to average in the scores of their worst students, DCP probably would outscore at least half the comprehensive schools.
Overall, DCP students nearly meet the state average on the graduation exam, which measures basic skills. By 11th grade, 44 percent test at the 50th percentile or above on a nationally normed exam. They score poorly on the test linked to state standards, which is a much harder exam.