New review of Georgia charter schools finds they don’t outperform traditional public schools

A new report released Wednesday by the state Department of Education shows that charter schools in Georgia trail the performance of traditional public school on the critical AYP measure.

The report will likely tone down the praise being heaped on charter schools in the Legislature, which is considering a constitutional amendment to allow the state to approve charters over the objections of local school boards.

In promoting the amendment to wary colleagues, some lawmakers have contended that charter schools outperform traditional public schools in the state. Not so, according to the in-depth annual review of charter school achievement by DOE.

According to DOE, 70 percent of charter schools made AYP or adequate yearly progress last year. In comparison, 73 percent of traditional public schools made AYP.

In one of the most telling lines, the 2010-2011 DOE report concludes, “The general trend of Georgia charter school performance mirrors the trend of traditional public school performance.”

According to the AJC:

Charter schools have become less successful than traditional schools in meeting federally mandated annual yearly progress targets, a report to the state Department of Education shows.

The report, presented to the state Board of Education Wednesday, also said graduation rates at charter schools are about the same as the state average. The findings are sure be a factor in the high-stakes fight brewing in the Legislature over charter schools, which are public schools that have been granted some freedom from state mandates in exchange for innovation.

Last week the state House of Representatives fell 10 votes short of getting the required two-thirds majority needed to put a constitutional amendment before voters that would give the state more authority to approve charter schools.

Legislators, prodded by determined charter school supporters, are expected to reconsider the bill. A virtually identical bill has been introduced in the state Senate.

Some state school board members, mindful of the political battle being waged at the Capitol, said they were disappointed by the findings in the report, prepared by the charter schools division of the state Department of Education.

“In this current political climate, I’d like to see some information that points out the benefits of charter schools,” board member Linda Zechmann said. “I’m not seeing that here, and it’s kind of disappointing.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

207 comments Add your comment

Like I said before...

February 16th, 2012
1:19 am

charter schools are the new “sexy” thing in Georgia. I never understood the idea of if you can’t do something good, like the current public government school system, why compound the trouble and add on something you’re not going to do so well at either.
no child left behind and now we are racing to the top. but folks as a country we still lag behind other countries in various areas. we have clear cut examples of schools doing well around the country, yet we do not duplicate. why?? Dr. Steve Perry is performing miracles by simply raising expectations of his teachers and students. He has accountability for performance and they are flourishing. Let’s go Georgia get it together!!!

Dr. Craig Spinks/Georgians for Educational Excellence

February 16th, 2012
1:40 am

Like I said before…,

“Let’s go Georgia (sic)get it together!!!” is the sentiment we Georgians must demonstrate if we are to drive successful PubEd improvement efforts.

Dr. Craig Spinks/Georgians for Educational Excellence

February 16th, 2012
1:45 am

The issues driving charter schools in GA are school climate-related: Parents want their children in safe schools. Parents want their kids in schools in which the adults, not the feral, are in charge.

Larry Major

February 16th, 2012
2:42 am

This part of the article belongs in a frame:

Louis Erste, director of the charter schools division at the state DOE, told board members many applications submitted have been of poor quality.
Simply approving charter schools for the sake of having charter schools is not the answer, Erste said.
“Charter schools are just a tool,” he said. “They are not the goal. The goal is a high-quality education.”

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Joel Finegold

February 16th, 2012
3:38 am

This article is prima facie evidence for the increasing popularity of charter schools. Those who think that the current AYP difference between public and charter schools favors public schools do not understand the most significant mathematical assumption that lends credence to the AYP figures. Nor do they understand the relation between AYP and the most fundamental picture that can be derived from the data used to calculate AYP. That picture is the curve that shows the rate at which learning was acquired relative to what students knew at the time the data about their progress began to be taken.

Among the measurements that AYP data provides is the rate at which a group of students are closing the deficit between what they know and what they are expected to know. Assuming that a person wants to learn something, the rate at which he learns depends on what he already knows and his awareness of what he must learn in order to reach a given learning goal. When a person’s knowledge of some subject is substandard to start with, the difference between what he knows and what he should know at some time in the future is greater than than that which a person who starts at standard and is trying to reach the same goal over the same time. Given that the two persons have the same learning ability and are taught to the same standard, one would expect that the person starting at the lower standard should learn at a faster rate than the person starting at the the higher standard.
The inference some people are drawing from this AYP data show that they are the product of substandard education. I think it will be a while before they gather any awareness of the difference between what they know about this data and what they should know about it. For the foreseeable future, their learning curve regarding this data is going to be flat.

Statistics and Tall Tales

February 16th, 2012
4:54 am

The news story nugget read “According to DOE, 70 percent of charter schools made AYP or adequate yearly progress last year. In comparison, 73 percent of traditional public schools made AYP.”

So, on the surface it looks like traditional publich charter schools in Georgia outperformed their charter public schools by 3 percent, right?

Not so fast.

We’re not comparing what needs to be compared.

What we need to compare is the charter school to the specific traditional public school that the charter school replaced.

Charter schools are most often created to get the kids out of the failing traditional public school.

So let’s compare what is really meaningful and what is really intended. Compare the charter school in Grant park with the traditional public school in Grant park that the charter school was meant to replace. Compare it in every way: academics, safety, parent involvement, parent satisfaction, teacher satisfaction, student satisfaction and so on. Compare everything about that charter school in Grant park with the traditional school in Grant park that it was meant to replace. THEN post the outcomes.

THEN see what you will find.

Now THAT would be news.

Good Mother

fultonschoolsparent

February 16th, 2012
5:55 am

Finally – the truth. Charters are just another fad foisted on us by politicians who stand to gain financially from helping to develop them (the same way they did from the testing fad.). They are not a cure for anything.

Mr. ED

February 16th, 2012
6:04 am

We already knew this. Charter schools serve as an escape from the social ills of public schools for parents who can’t afford private. What’s more damning is the fact that charters select their students, while public accepts everyone.

ByteMe

February 16th, 2012
6:17 am

The report will likely tone down the praise being heaped on charter schools in the Legislature,

No it won’t. Facts don’t matter to the people pushing this. Only lobbyists and profits and graft and re-election (it’s all related).

Rick in ATL

February 16th, 2012
6:18 am

“The parents and student advocates in the most depressed communities… in many instances simply do not have the expertise or the professional networks necessary to put together high-quality, compelling applications,” Bobb said.

Totally agree.

But in my part of town, parents could put together a network of affluent, highly educated professionals (including a few outstanding lawyers to help navigate the legal thickets) over a single cup at San Francisco Coffee. In a year or two, our new charter school would be the top performer in all APS, not that that’s some great accomplishment.

APS had better think about that as it prepares to draw new district lines and ponders the possibility of forcing schools to merge. Errol Davis says he doesn’t want to force-merge high- and low-performing schools, but we still have to worry about what our bats***t-crazy BOE and our grandstanding City Council might do to undermine him.

Charter schools need not only spring up in low-SES areas.

For now, we’re keeping this option holstered. For now.

ScienceTeacher671

February 16th, 2012
6:25 am

From the article: “charter schools…are public schools that have been granted some freedom from state mandates in exchange for innovation.”

If the state mandates are the problem, the General Assembly should free all public schools from those mandates, not just a select few.

ScienceTeacher671

February 16th, 2012
6:27 am

@Dr. Craig Spinks/Georgians for Educational Excellence: The issues driving charter schools in GA are school climate-related: Parents want their children in safe schools. Parents want their kids in schools in which the adults, not the feral, are in charge.

Great comment. How do we fix school climate and discipline in ALL our schools?

Double Zero Eight

February 16th, 2012
7:17 am

@ ScienceTeacher671
You get a “Lean On Me” type administrator as portrayed
by Morgan Freeman in the movie. The principal sets the
tone.

Rick in ATL

February 16th, 2012
7:20 am

@ScienceTeacher: the great columnist Walter Williams (who also happens to be black) says this, and he’s talking about inner-city black kids, but I am going to substitute Dr. Spinks’ word “feral.” because, of course, no race owns this category:

“Many (feral) students are alien and hostile to the education process. They have parents with little interest in their education. These students not only sabotage the education process, but make schools unsafe as well. These students should not be permitted to destroy the education chances of others. They should be removed or those students who want to learn should be provided with a mechanism to go to another school.”

http://tinyurl.com/6cvxq9b

ST, if you told me I had to add to my business some employees–let’s say 15%–who were not going to do any work but were going to sit around all day vandalizing my equipment, starting fights and recording those fights on their camera phones, well, that would kill my business stone dead. But we think nothing of saddling public schools with far, far too many feral children.

Until we remove the disruptive students (by all means, let’s spend some money to create a safety net for them), no inner-city public school stands a chance. Ultimately, charters will overtake them all, because parents will demand their own mechanism for removing miscreants.

Van Jones

February 16th, 2012
7:31 am

Dr. Craig @ 1:45 wrote “Parents want their kids in schools in which the adults, not the feral, are in charge.”

Indeed Sir, indeed.

teacher for life

February 16th, 2012
7:39 am

Thank goodness that we have an unbiased way to compare schools. Everyone loves to bash testing, but when we want to judge the success or failure of an institution, there is no better way that common standards and common assessments. The problem with NCLB is that it has been sold as a way to improve education. The testing only tells us how well the students are learning. Curriculum and Instruction along with student and parent involvement will improve schools. Remove the testing and all we have is people spouting their opinions about whether one school or another is doing well.

Brandy

February 16th, 2012
7:39 am

@Rick and Dr. Craig Spinks, feral children? Isn’t that a bit extreme? Yes, there are extreme behavior problem children out there. Don’t get me started on the examples I encountered teaching in Baltimore. But none of these students qualified as feral children.

see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_child
http://listverse.com/2008/03/07/10-modern-cases-of-feral-children/
http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/article750838.ece

Alien or foreign might be a better descriptor–they are products of a subculture that our society has deemed unacceptable or undesireable, deviant. Those within their subculture, may or may not view them as thus. Recognizing cultural differences is a step towards bridging any gaps–going both ways since both “mainstream American culture”, put in quotes because everyone defines this differently, and this subculture can learn from each other. Read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton for a perspective on this cyclical element of human culture.

“Ultimately, charters will overtake them all, because parents will demand their own mechanism for removing miscreants.”
History seems to suggest that, ultimately, charter schools will be forced to accept those they deem undesirable and charters will be in the same place as public schools that are unable to turn anyone away. The same thing happened when we tried to create schools and districts to avoid desegregation. The same thing happened when public schools tried to keep disabled students out. The same thing happened when universities tried to keep women out.

Not the Issue

February 16th, 2012
7:39 am

Not advocating for charter schools, but let’s consider the ridiculous measure of both public and charter schools – AYP.

So five minutes ago.

This issue isn’t numbers on a test and whose are higher. The issue in the nation is our philosophies of what education means, who deserves it, and who gets the best resources. Consistently, America’s definition of success is a test score, only upper middle and upper class people deserve a decent education, and the same group gets the best resources (human and otherwise). There is research and statistics that back up this statement.

We have no desire to educate everyone here in America, and if the country goes ahead and admits that, gets it out in the wide open, we might be able to make some improvements. Talking about public v. charter is like discussing whether a patient’s blood is maroon or magenta when they are dying of blood loss: pointless.

How 2 lie with statistics

February 16th, 2012
8:04 am

70 percent of charter schools made AYP cmpared to 73 percent of traditional public schools. At first blush, this statistic sounds like a good comparison…

but hold on a minute…

charter schools open where traditional public schools fail.

So a correct and accurate picture of charter schools is to compare a charter school with the traditional public school it was meant to get away from.

Compare, for example, the Gran Park charter school with the Grant Park traditional school it was meant to replace. Compare AYP and CRCT scores and also compare safety, parental involvement, student and parent satisfacttion.

Now THAT is a good, honest comparison.

Where traditional public schools succedd (like at Fernbank) there is no clamor for a public charter school.

It is when the traditional public school fails that a charter school opens.

APS is a giant failure iwth a few bright spots. We need charter schools to replace rotten, failing pubic schools and the employees who create them.

The Report is NOT showing the TRUE Results

February 16th, 2012
8:05 am

Maureen – what you posting failed to inform the readership is that this study was a comprehensive “Charter” school study that lumped all Charter Schools together. What that means is that this study included Charter Schools that were conversion Charter Schools (Non-Startup Charters) and non-Commission Schools. It included Charter Schools that are “System” Charters and Charter Schools and Systems that are officially listed as Charters but DO NOT OPERATE AS CHARTERS IN TERMS OF TEACHING METHODOLOGY AND CURRICULUM. IT INCLUDED MANY CHARTERS THAT ARE LISTED AS CHARTERS SIMPLY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE OR FINANCIAL REASONS BUT STILL TEACH AND OPERATE AS A TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOL.

I will post more later on the true Demographics of the study that shows Start-Up Charters, Commission Charters – Charters that teach and operate as “real Charters” – DO OUTPERFORM TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

It is no secret you are biased towards a pro-government vs. pro-parental choice educational system, Maureen, but to put this study out there without noting this is truly unprofessional in my mind. You are doing a serious disservice to the readership and “reporting the truth.”

Cypher

February 16th, 2012
8:11 am

In redards to Charter vs Traditional….There is room for both;competition is healthy. But i want to give a ^5 to the head of Atlanta Public Schools Current Leadership for having the brains to flatline management while continuing to support schools. Maybe now people who are not “connected” but talented maybe actually able to serve in the APS school district. If only the City of Atlanta would take a page out of that playbook we may actually get compentency over cronyism.

Cypher

February 16th, 2012
8:14 am

Sorry “regards”

Not a Parent

February 16th, 2012
8:31 am

@Cypher – “Competition is healthy.” Huh? Do you honestly feel that this applies to everything everywhere all of the time? I do not. Especially when it comes to my tax money.

I absolutely do not want to hand over my tax money to a parent that can then “chose” to do whatever with it.

I just cannot understand why all of you people (yes, I said it) cannot use your time, energy, and money to improve your local public school. It can work. It has worked. It will work. If your local public school is failing, then it is likely because the community has stopped being involved. Get involved. Do something.

However, you people think that the choice of fleeing is better????

To Like I said before from Good Ma

February 16th, 2012
8:31 am

Like, you said “charter schools are the new “sexy” thing in Georgia”

Sexy?

Charter schools are sexy?

i can’t believe I just read that comment.

Schools are not sexy. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Charter schools are a popular choice by parents who are fed up by failing public schools.

To describe them as “sexy” says a lot about you, Like I said.

You need a labotomy.

Good day,
Good Ma

The Report is NOT showing the TRUE Results

February 16th, 2012
8:35 am

Ok…so here are the telling statistics that the media and Maureen so conveniently forgot to highlight….

- More than four-fifths (83%) of FIRST-YEAR charter schools MADE AYP…

- Almost two-thirds (62%) of CHARTER SCHOOLS MADE AYP in school districts that did NOT make AYP…

Of the 148 charter schools with AYP designations (including charter system schools):

• It is most common (62%) for the charter school to make AYP and the school district to not make AYP

• Least common (8%) is for both the school and the district to make AYP

• Neither the school nor the district made AYP in 30% of the cases

Although at the end of the day, the case is not about traditional vs. charter, which one should we have, but rather, the fact that we need strong traditional and charter schools so we can focus on educating the children that fit each respective model best. Towards that end, Charter School options are needed….and where they are needed and called for by parents, they are doing their job and a worthwhile investment of taxpayer’s money, especially taxpayers who have school aged children.

d

February 16th, 2012
8:47 am

Can anyone really define what it means for a school to be failing? Anyone? Test scores? AYP? What is “failing”?

JCypher

February 16th, 2012
8:57 am

@NAP-Just as we know that all children don’t learn the same way, we have to take further to say that they don’t learn the same way in all enviroments. What Charters can offer does not take away from what public schools can offer. Personally, I too am a taxpayer and I don’t have children, but I care about all children. Frankly, I would like to see more specialized charters that focus on children with exceptionalities, why not let the parents take the lead with students who need more specialized help.

Al Meyers

February 16th, 2012
9:02 am

Ms. Downey, I mean no disrespect when I say that you have done this state a major disservice by providing such misleading information and information that has clearly been misinformed and so poorly researched. Even if it was accurate, new schools don’t turn miracles overnight. But if you give new innovative approaches to education a fair and equal opportunity to take hold, there is no telling how high our state’s academic excellence will go.

I truly hope you will do your homework and issue a retraction, because you conveniently shared only a small part of the story.

Al Meyers
ReinventED Solutions
http://www.reinventedsolutions.com

Another Teacher

February 16th, 2012
9:05 am

As usual, Maureen Downey is not presenting complete information. Imagine that. As mentioned, charter schools are just one tool that can be used for education. There is no “magic bullet” program that fixes our ailing public education system. There are some basic keys to the success of any school regardless of the form, private, charter, career academy, home school, etc.

Those items are as follows: consistent and firm discipline, parental support of those teaching their children, a rigorous course of study focused on education that will help any student function in the real world, teachers that know more than just academia and an absence of thought that education is “an end in itself.” Last, but not least, leadership that expects that students, teachers and anyone else in the process will perform to their best. If these people don’t perform to their best, then there should be an equitable mechanism to remove them from the process.

Education is supposed to be the vehicle to help a person, so they can function in the environment they choose to reside in. It isn’t the salvation of people nor is it a constitutional guarantee; it is just a part of preparing the mind for understanding the world around them.

If you apply these concepts, then whatever the structural form of school, you will give students the opportunity to learn.

Not a Parent

February 16th, 2012
9:17 am

@JCyper – “Why not let the parents take the lead with students who need more specialized help?”

That is already offered in the current laws and services in public schools. It is called special education.

Again I ask, why re-create the wheel? If the wheel needs fixing, then fix it. But we don’t need an additional wheel!

Not a Parent

February 16th, 2012
9:21 am

By the way, for those that want to argue that charter schools allow for some focus or some specialized area for students, PUBLIC SCHOOLS ALREADY OFFER THAT!

They are called Theme schools.

I have yet to hear of any real ligitamate reason for a need for whatever you call “Charter” schools. The only reason I know of is so a private company can profit off of my tax dollars.

And that is not acceptable!

Maureen Downey

February 16th, 2012
9:25 am

@Another teacher, If you have read my stuff over the years, you will see one theme: There is no magic solution to improving schools. Making them smaller, taller or mufti-lingual won’t do it if the foundation of strong teaching, strong curriculum and strong leadership is not in place.
What I have protested and continue to protest is the General Assembly’s assumption that rather than reform schools, we can rename them and assume all is well once the word “charter” is over the door. In the last five years, the Legislature has spent more time talking about charters than any other reform, despite the growing evidence that charters, for the most part, perform like the regular public school next door. In some sessions, nothing else was discussed except slashing funding.
Maureen

Not a Parent

February 16th, 2012
9:25 am

@d – I’ll give it a shot…

A “failing” school is the perception that a school is not providing proper education to its students. It could also include things such as a school with a very high crime rate or other more ambiguous things.

Some will try to use scores on tests to justify the label of “failing school.” So, if a school has a low CRCT average one year, then some will use that to slap the label of “failing school” on it.

No Child Left Behind attempted to define a “failing school” using test scores. But, since NCLB itself is a failure I’m not sure we should buy in to their definition.

Mary Elizabeth

February 16th, 2012
9:26 am

The following comments are lifted from my 9:06 am post, on the previous thread:

“Charter schools could, if not handled wisely, do more harm in the long run than benefit, especially if they are seen to be “the answer” to education. If they end up, even inadvertently, dismantling traditional public education, they are not helpful. I think it quite ironic that just when technological advancement has aided us to the point whereby traditional public schools can place student data, of many years standing, on computers for quick analysis by public schools teachers, and just when we are arriving at the point whereby we know the value of training teachers to teach to individual needs of students, that our traditional public schools are being threatened by those with a heavy-handed competition agenda which could break up school systems into isolated charter schools. Many isolated charter schools will not have cohesion with one another in fostering continuity of student growth over many years. Ours is a mobile society. We need that cohesion and continuity among traditional public schools and school systems in Georgia. We should use Race to the Top to better train teachers in how to individualize instruction, and how to use test data to teach creatively and precisely, in a relaxed, collaborative, non-threatening school environment. Thereby, is the combination of the best of the elements of Finland’s educational model and our own Race to the Top model that, combined, can help to create educational excellence for America, into our future. We must not change hastily. We must envision what we must be about in public educational delivery, long-ranged.”

Maureen Downey

February 16th, 2012
9:26 am

@Al. At this moment, this is the whole story: DOE reviewed charters in Georgia and issued a report. Its conclusion; Charters in Georgia resemble other schools in Georgia.
Maureen

To Not a Parent

February 16th, 2012
9:26 am

You ask a good honest question, which is “Again I ask, why re-create the wheel? If the wheel needs fixing, then fix it. But we don’t need an additional wheel!”

The answer is that three out of four wheels on the education car are flat, torned to shreds, broken and the driver, the chaffeur and the mechanice can’t fix those broken wheels.

The kids in those education cars still need to get where they are going and they can’t if three out of four wheels are broken.

So when a new car comes along with wheels that roll and a driver who knows where the kids need to go and a mechanic that can and does fix other things that break….

which car do you think I want my kids to go on?

Good Ma

APS Parent

February 16th, 2012
9:28 am

Contrary to @Report NOT Showing True Results, the report probably understates how poorly charter schools as a group are actually performing. Because attendance at a charter school must be chosen by a parent, the student body of every charter is made up exclusively of children of more involved parents. These are, of course, the students who as a group will perform at a higher level than their peers regardless of the quality of the school. Even if they were not providing any better instruction at all, charter schools (”havens for the motivated” as Diane Ravitch calls them) should be absolutely blowing away the regular public schools in terms of AYP and student achievement data. That they are not even doing as well as Georgia’s regular public schools on these measurements suggests that charter schools as a whole are failing to provide any net benefit to the overall educational system, while siphoning off an ever-increasing percentage of the public funding available to educate Georgia’s children.

HUH? GA doesn't believe AYP measures success...so how come we do all of a sudden? In THIS situation...

February 16th, 2012
9:29 am

I thought we just agreed AS A STATE that AYP was not an accurate measure of school success anyway? Did we not just receive a NCLB waiver from Obama due to the insistence of our state that AYP was not fair or accurate? But IN THIS CASE it IS an accurate way to show public schools (charters) are not successful? I don’t think we can have it both ways y’all.

Maureen Downey

February 16th, 2012
9:29 am

@True, Actually, some of those conversions, including Walton and all the city of Decatur schools, greatly enhance the charter profile.
Maureen

Rick in ATL

February 16th, 2012
9:38 am

@Brandy: in each of the cases you mention:

“The same thing happened when we tried to create schools and districts to avoid desegregation. The same thing happened when public schools tried to keep disabled students out. The same thing happened when universities tried to keep women out.”

–the excluded class had a legitimate moral and socio-economic argument for inclusion.

In the case of feral children, however, the “right” of the disruptive children to occupy a public school runs up against the right of hard-working students to be safe and free from disruption.

There is, therefore, a compelling moral and economic argument for helping these feral kids some other way, while EXCLUDING them from the public schools.

As to your last point, any charter school forced to warehouse feral children the way inner-city US schools do now will fail just as surely as those schools have failed. Charter-starter parent groups will never allow it; they’ll simply close their charter school’s doors and go private or homeschool.

Maureen Downey

February 16th, 2012
9:45 am

@2Lie, But your contention is no longer true. In their inception — and I covered some of the very first education conferences on charter schools before any opened in Georgia — charter schools were supposed to be learning labs in communities with failing schools, but the movement has quickly gone suburban and upper middle-class. We have charters now seeking to open in communities that have some of the highest ranked schools in the state.

More than half of Americans live in suburbs, and about 1 in 5 of the 4,951 existing charter schools were located there in 2010.

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/07/18/the-charter-school-battle-shifts-to-suburbs-and-pits-neighbor-against-neighbor/

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/11/16/charter-schools-for-children-of-millionaires-an-expansion-of-the-concept-or-distortion/

By the way, I am amused by all these qualifers, including that the conversion charters — traditional schools that become charters — aren’t doing that well but start-ups are. (Actually, if you look at CRCT scores, some of the lowest ones were in start-ups)
Whether conversion or start-up, the schools operate under the same rules, and supporters contend that the rules make the difference. So, why should conversions be lower? (And, again, look at Walton and Decatur City — both are conversions and both ramped up the overall charter scores.)
The charter school results in Georgia mirror results in almost every state. Mixed is the best we can say.
Yet, folks are on here insisting that it is unfair, that we shouldn’t judge these schools by their scores, that the schools are too new and have farther yet to go. (Half the charters in this state are existing schools that were operating for decades.)
But scores are being used by charter proponents in the Legislature to cite the failures of traditional schools and to bolster the argument that we need more charters.
Either we judge all schools by the same standard — and I would agree that it should be more than test scores but that is the current method — or we don’t.

Maureen

[...] of the bill claim that charters outperform their public counterparts. On the AJC’s “Get Schooled” blog today, Maureen Downey has reported that in an in-depth study of charter school [...]

William Casey

February 16th, 2012
10:11 am

I have reservations about the Charter School movement but I must say that the level of discussion on this topic is far above what is normal on this blog. I’ve learned some things. Thanks, folks!

White Elephant

February 16th, 2012
10:14 am

Having done public (1 year), private (5 years) and a charter school (3 weeks), I am not surprised by this finding. It will be interesting to see the test scores for the charter school we briefly attended (Cherokee Co.). My prediction is that they will not perform quite to their great hype and promise, and I venture to guess, worse than the Cherokee County school district’s schools. I would also bet good money that the results of any tests will not be published until the absolute latest allowable time.

Safety? Security? Parental involvement? That apparently came after we (and several friends) left our charter experiment this past fall. Plus many inexperienced and poorly trained teachers were hired. Apparently several have since been fired, including the teacher that my younger child had to endure. Charter schools are NOT, in my humble opinion, the educational panacea on which so many Georgians hang so much hope.

Why is a charter in a suburb not OK?

February 16th, 2012
10:16 am

This question is for Maureen but to all who read here. Maureen you say “charter schools were supposed to be learning labs in communities with failing schools, but the movement has quickly gone suburban and upper middle-class”

So what?

So what if suburban and middle class families want a charter school? Why is that wrong?

Those families (and I am not one of them) who live in suburbs and have middle class incomes pay taxes and they have children who need to be educated and if those families want a charter school insteead of a traditional public school, then they should be allowed that choice.

Obviously, if the traditional public school was filling the needs of these families, then those families would elect to stay at the traditional public school.

In addition to low test scores there are other reasons suburban middle class families (both black and white and yellow and brown) want to attend a charter school.

Here are a few:
safety concerns
a de-emphasis on sports-obsessed community schools like Tucker High School.
an emphasis on a particular academic pursuit such as science.
a smaller school, just fewer numbers.

My neighbor is a good example of a charter school fan. She sends her oldest daughter to a traditional high school. She is satisfied with that choice for her daughter. Her youngest daughter has a much harder time in a large school. My neighbor chose to send her youngest daughter to a public charter school where she thrives.

So where is the beef? Same family. same tax dollars. different choices for children, who are different and need different things.

All this railing about charter schools has one significant ring to it — losss of power.

The traditional public schools will and are experiencing a loss of money and with it, power.

Crooked boards don’t or won’t have as big a pot to rob. Bad teachers will more likely get pink slips.

Competition is good for the public school system.

If parents want to spend THEIR tax dollars on a charter school, then they should be allowed to do it. It’s THEIR money. THEY earned it.

Why should all of us be forced to go into an institution when we can create our own school where parents and kids feel better about themselves and the education they are receiving?

Name one valid reason why charter schools should not exist.

Good Ma

Parent Teacher

February 16th, 2012
10:19 am

Study after study and report after report continue to state that charter schools perform no better than traditional schools, yet time and time again excuses are made to dismiss these results. Look at the research and the reports. Charters do not perform any better than the traditional schools. The lagest most comprehensive study from Stanford, a leading university, shows this information. Some say the study was two short and not relevant, that is untrue. It was a 4 year comprehensive study that ended in 2008 and conducted by a prestegious university. It is true that research studys need to continue and they are. Be patient and watch. New studies are most likely going to show the same if not worse results as new schools open and many of these schools will be run by “for profit” groups who don’t care about student performance and istead will focus on a bottom line.

Get the legislature, both federal and state, out of local politics and allow teachers to continue the good work that most do daily. Take the bureaucracy out of education and let teachers decide how to teach.

Lynn43

February 16th, 2012
10:22 am

Most start-up charters do not have all the sub-groups that traditional schools have, and the reason most traditional schools who do not make AYP is because of these sub groups. If traditional schools can make higher when they have to include special ed, race, income, English as a second language, etc, etc. and charters have none to include, then without these sub-groups, traditional schools would have much, much higher scores than “no sub-group” charters.

A call for an opinon by a charter parent

February 16th, 2012
10:25 am

I think it is time Maureen highlighted an author on this blog — a parent, a paernt who sent their child to a traditional public school and then went to a charter school.

Why did they leave the traditional public school?
What is different at the charter school?

How about several of these families highlighted on Get Schooled?

We have a lot of guest authors on this blog but not many parents. We really need to hear from them and a charter school teacher too.

Good Ma