State Charter Coalition Looks Beyond Headlines for Solutions
April 06, 2011
WEST CHESTER, PA (April 6, 2011) — The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) is reviewing data from charter schools across the state in an effort to determine why some charter schools are excelling and why others are not. Data released from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) today on performance of Pennsylvania traditional and charter schools confirms what we have known and provides some insight into where to look for improvement.
Data within the study indicates, on average, that charters are underperforming traditional public schools, but hidden in the data is an important factor: Pennsylvania has a higher percentage of both high-performing and underperforming charter schools than the national average and the high-performing charters are out-performing most traditional public schools. Since the study is weighted on averages, the lower-performing charter schools have a significant negative impact on the reported results for all charters.
The data also shows that many students who leave traditional public schools for charters are not performing at grade level when they enter a charter but, over time, catch up to grade level competency faster than those who remain in the traditional public school.
The bottom line is that while top line numbers are important to identify issues, we must dig deeper into the details to find the solutions. In doing so, we find that Pennsylvania is home to some of the best charter schools in the nation which can serve as models to public schools throughout the state.
“PCPCS is partnering with charter schools across the Commonwealth to determine specific reasons why some charter schools excel and others do not. This is precisely why charters were created — not only to provide choice for parents, but to test alternative education methods, learn quickly, and pass on what we learn from both our successes and failures,” said PCPCS President Lawrence F. Jones, Jr. “Our challenge now is to take that information and develop methods that will enable underperforming charter schools to apply successful practices of higher-performing charter schools in a manner that will help them improve. We are also committed to working with the legislature and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to adopt uniform accountability and performance measures that will give us the tools to improve both excellent and underperforming charter schools, and eliminate those schools that do not improve. Ultimately, we look to pass what we learn on to all public schools so that we can improve education for all children in Pennsylvania.”