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Old 06-21-2011, 05:46 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
5,409 posts, read 9,558,582 times
Reputation: 8577

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A local columnist today referenced a study on the results from charter and especially cyber-charter schools. Some of the key points:
- In reading and math, cybercharters performed below average in comparison with district schools at every grade level tested. That was without exception.
- the School District of Philadelphia is paying almost $9,000 per student for cybercharters that have been certifiable failures
- Officials in western Pennsylvania's North Hills School District estimated that cybercharters spend less than $1,000 per year on each of their students.
- Students that attend cyber charters are eligible to take activities at their public school with any costs incurred being absorbed by the school without any compensation.

The column also cites a movement towards a voucher program in PA that would require no achievement standards for private schools receiving money, and how funding a voucher system while districts are trying to reduce spending would play out.

I haven't read the report the columnist (Elmer Smith) is citing, so I don't know how the findings were reached. It's possible that his interpretation is skewed; the thing that jumped out to me though was how lucrative the cyber charter model is for the people running them.

Thoughts? I don't begrudge cyber charters their ability to function, but there seems to be some serious short-sightedness in how funding is done.

Why keep spending on these school cyberfailures?
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Old 06-21-2011, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,702,140 times
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Before you judge charter schools, you need to realize why they get students and where their students come from. Parents don't wake up one day and say "Gee, my child is doing really well in the neighborhood school, I think I'll move them to a charter school!!". No, parents move children only when there is a problem. The problem may be the local schools or the problem may be the child or the problem may be the parent but there will be a problem that prompted the move or, at least, the perception of a problem if there isn't really one.

Second, charter schools are compared to schools within the city or district in which they are located which is not, necessarily, where their students live. Often their students are coming from poorer performing districts. I taught at a charter in the suburbs but about half of our students came from Detroit. The other half came, predominantly, from three nearyby failing districts. ALL of the feeder districts underperformed the district in which the school is located.

Hence, it should come as no surprise that charters underperform the neighborhood schools. I would expect them to. The question is how do kids track once in the charter.

The charter I taught at was the high school for the charter my children attended for elementary school. I loved the elementary school. Both of my kids grew by leaps and bounds. Unfortuntely, once I was in the high school, I saw that there was no continuation of that growth. In fact, if I'd left my kids there, I believe they would have stagnated and ended up behind instead of ahead so I moved them back to the local district. Again, I didn't move them until I perceived a problem. Most parents won't move their kids unless they see a problem.

I'm sure the cybercharter model is a money maker. I'm betting that within 10 years we'll see this model being used in traditional schools because it's such a cost save. I'm also betting it will be a failure for most students.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:31 AM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
5,409 posts, read 9,558,582 times
Reputation: 8577
That's why I'm curious as to how the research was done. Here, most of the charters are in the city, and very few are in the burbs. If the study compared charters to all the regional districts, I would expect them to show up lower, but if compared just to the district they're in or the district where students come from, I'd expect a different result.

As I see it, the benefit of charters is that families are making an active decision to send their kids there, rather than simply defaulting to the local school. Sometimes the local school is fine, but when it isn't, making a positive decision to move a child seems like it would usually be a benefit.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:47 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,702,140 times
Reputation: 14495
Quote:
Originally Posted by maf763 View Post
That's why I'm curious as to how the research was done. Here, most of the charters are in the city, and very few are in the burbs. If the study compared charters to all the regional districts, I would expect them to show up lower, but if compared just to the district they're in or the district where students come from, I'd expect a different result.

As I see it, the benefit of charters is that families are making an active decision to send their kids there, rather than simply defaulting to the local school. Sometimes the local school is fine, but when it isn't, making a positive decision to move a child seems like it would usually be a benefit.
From experience, I can tell you that parents who choose charters are leaving what they perceive to be a problem. Unfortunately, often the real problem is them or their children and they really just take the problem with them.

Any data on charters has to be peppered with the fact that it is NOT the best students in a district that move. Parents don't move their kids when they are doing well. They move them when they are doing poorly. So, even if the students come from the same district, I would expect charters to perform lower but it's because they are starting with students who have issues.

While I don't like the fact that charters are for profit in Michigan, I understand that they are a necessary evil. A poorly performing charter school can easily be better than the local schools or the school from which the child is fleeing. You have to be very careful to make sure you're comparing apples to apples when you compare charters to local schools. The question you must answer is: Where do the students attending this charter live?
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