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December 16, 2004

I Iz Not Working

The government can't do anything right, right? Especially not those lazy union bureaucratic teachers in public schools -- charter schools and competition will leave them in the dust. Think again, says a study by "an independent, congressionally mandated research group."

The survey by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which describes itself as "the nation's report card," showed that 58 percent of fourth-grade students in charter schools performed at a basic level in reading, compared with 62 percent in traditional public schools. When the results were adjusted for race, students at the traditional public schools in the survey still did slightly better, but the margin was deemed "statistically insignificant." Low-income students at regular public schools generally outperformed their charter school counterparts.

The study is perhaps the most authoritative evaluation of charter schools to date.

What's particularly entertaining is the response from the pro-charter school folks:
Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, a pro-charter advocacy group, said the NAEP statistics did not tell "the full story" about charter schools, which tend to recruit a disproportionate number of students from disadvantaged groups. She described the NAEP results as "a statistical dead heat" and pointed to studies by private researchers that suggest that "the longer kids are in charter schools, the better they do."
When you think about all the inherent advantages charter schools have -- that they get to pick the kids who attend, that they can just dump kids who are problems, etc. -- that's pretty dismal. I don't seem to remember pliticians saying, "if we can just get those educational bureaucrats out of the way, we'll finally get to a statistical dead heat."

Posted by RalphTaylor at December 16, 2004 07:14 AM