Eliza Shapiro at Capital NY:
The New York City Independent Budget Office on Monday released a trove of data on New York City charter schools, confirming trends about the sector's significant growth, its demographics and its controversial attrition numbers and backfill policies.
Among the report's most politically salient findings is that the Success Academy charter school network, the city's largest, significantly outperforms all other charters on standardized tests. Success' prowess at producing high test scores has been well-documented and frequently advertised by its founder, Eva Moskowitz, and the charter groups that advocate on its behalf, including Families for Excellent Schools.
The findings are likely to boost Success' reputation as one of the city and state's highest-performing charter networks. However, the report notes that while Success is often portrayed as the face of the city's charter sector, it is hardly reflective of the sector as a whole. Independent charters, for example, have lower standardized test results but often focus on high-needs populations, and other networks with similar "no-excuses" discipline styles to Success still record lower exam scores.
On average, charters are still producing mediocre standardized test scores, though they are performing better than many district schools.
According to the report, most charter school students are scoring a Level 2 on state math and English exams, which is not considered proficient. Forty-three percent of all charter students scored at Level 2 on English exams and 34 percent scored at Level 2 on math exams, compared to 5 percent of charter students who scored Level 4, the highest level, on English exams, according to the report.
The IBO data also showed significant demographic differences between charters and district schools:
The I.B.O. report included a demographic breakdown of charter students, confirming that the vast majority—93 percent—are black or Hispanic.
Charters enroll fewer English language learners (E.L.L.s) and special education students than district schools, a fact that has already emerged in various studies and which remains a key point of contention between charter leaders and the sector's critics.
Six percent of charter students speak a language other than English as their primary language, compared to 15 percent of district school students, according to the report.
Charter schools also have fewer students with special needs compared to district schools, and the report highlights one important difference in how special needs students are classified in each system.
Mediocre test scores for all but Success Academies (which Success achieves through an insane prep regimen that cannot and should not be replicated anywhere else) and significant demographic differences between charters and district schools on ELL and support services enrollment.
Can we finally dispense with the meme that charters have something to "teach" district schools?