Every year the Florida DOE compares charter vs. traditional public school performance. The report shows percentages of proficient students in each sector. Charters win, hands down in this report but not on reports from national research studies. Why is that?
- Charters enroll a lower percentage of students who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch, disabilities and English Language Learners. Thus, given the correlation between income and achievement, charters should look better. In general they represent higher income families. See the Florida DOE chart below.
The achievement for Florida charters is dismal when compared to similar traditional public school (TPS) students. The DOE comparisons do not match students based on their test scores. The CREDO urban area study did. Look at the evidence for achievement gains, in 42 cities, between charters and traditional public school students when matched on their initial achievement levels and the amount gained three years later.
CREDO STUDY RESULTS: The picture for urban charters in Florida is not pretty. Based on results from Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tampa and West Palm Beach:
- Charters in five of seven cities did worse than the TPS in reading. Miami and Tampa had small charter gains.
- Charters in three of seven cities did worse in math. One showed no difference; three (Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa) did slightly better than the TPS students.
Only in Jacksonville and Miami are student demographics similar between charters and TPS. In other cities, Florida charters generally enroll a lower percentage of students in poverty and with learning disabilities. It should be noted that in Miami, while there are similar numbers of students in poverty, the charter sector is largely Hispanic. This is generally not the case in most of the urban areas studied. No matter how you look at the comparisons, something is lacking in Florida’s charter sector.
Some U.S. city charters do remarkably better than the TPS e.g. Bay Area, Boston, Memphis, Newark, New Orleans, and New York City. Most cities do not. These gains are largest for low-income black students and Hispanic English language learners.
While the data from these cities are disputed by reliable sources, it is important to look at the charter sectors in these areas to see if and how they differ from those in other cities. For example, Boston has a limited and tightly controlled charter group. New York City charters are known to have high dismissal rates. What is happening in these charter successful cities? Who do they really serve?
Is the formula for successful charters to weed out students whom they cannot help? Should traditional public schools do the same? Where does this road lead? Want to find out? Read the blog tomorrow.