Charters soar in Massachusetts, Chicago

Ninety percent of Massachusetts charter schools are performing as well or better than schools their students otherwise would attend, concludes a new study by the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment for the state Department of Education.

Researchers compared MCAS results in English and math between individual charter schools and their comparison sending districts and examined student growth over time for individual students enrolled in charter schools.

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll said questions about charter school effectiveness have been answered, “Our next steps will be to determine exactly what charter schools are doing differently and how their successes can benefit the traditional public schools.”

Significant performances differences were “much more likely to favor the charter school,” the study fund. At least 30 percent of charters performed much better than their comparison school district; 10 percent of charters performed worse than the comparison district in math, fewer than 10 percent in English. Black, Hispanic and low-income students were more likely to do significantly better when enrolled in charter schools.

In addition to comparing 2001 to 2005 test results, researchers analyzed “changes in individual student test scores for continuously enrolled students over time.” Nearly all the schools making above-average gains in student scores over time were charter schools.

In Chicago, another study shows charter schools outperforming nearby district-run schools.

Chicago Public Schools released Tuesday its performance report of the system’s 25 charters — 16 elementaries, eight high schools and one K-12 school–in the 2004-05 school year.

. . . The report concluded that charter students citywide scored higher on tests, attended school more often and changed schools less often than their peers in neighboring schools.

. . . For the 20 charters reporting results on state exams in 2005, all outperformed comparison schools in the percentage of pupils meeting standards. However, only 13 charter schools received high rankings on their budget and finances. All eight charter high schools reported higher graduation rates than neighboring schools’.

Michael Goldstein, founder of the very successful MATCH charter school in Boston, wonders if the New York Times, which loves anti-charter studies, will report on these pro-charter studies.

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