Troy A. LaRaviere is principal at Blaine Elementary School. In this article in the Chicago Sun-Times, he explains how the city’s public schools got higher test scores than the city’s well-funded, politically favored charter schools. To my knowledge, the Chicago Tribune–a cheerleader for charters– has not reported this story, nor has Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged it. Please let me know if I am wrong.
“In terms of assessing the effectiveness of charter schools, I believe the most accurate comparison is to public magnet schools since both charters and magnets have lottery admissions processes that increase the likelihood of enrolling students with involved parents. In essence, charters are privately run magnet schools and therefore should be measured against publicly run magnet schools. I believe that turnaround schools should be compared to neighborhood schools since they both must accept students within their attendance boundaries. Using the Sun-Times results, the comparisons are as follows:
* The most dramatic performance gaps are in reading, where the public magnet school growth percentile is 83, while the charter score is 48.
* The public neighborhood percentile is at 75, while turnarounds are at 51.
* Although neighborhood schools must enroll any student in their attendance boundary, their students’ reading growth percentile is 27 points higher than that of lottery-driven charters schools. Neighborhood schools are at 75 and charters are at 48.
* In math, the public magnet school growth percentile is 67, while the lottery-driven charter schools are at 49.5 — over 17 points lower.
* The neighborhood school growth percentile is at 55 while the turnaround school percentile is at 43 — 12 points lower.
* Even with their admissions limitations, public neighborhood schools outperformed the growth in lottery-driven charter schools by more than five percentile points, with neighborhood and charter schools at 54.9 and 49.5 respectively.
“A simple look at a list of the schools reveals even more. Of the 490 Chicago schools for which elementary grade MAP data was available, 60 of those schools are charter (12 percent), 24 are turnaround (5 percent), and 406 (83 percent) are traditional public schools. When sorted by growth percentile rank, I found the following:
* Although charters and turnarounds make up 17 percent of district schools, they account for none of the 60 schools with the highest growth percentiles.
* Of the 30 lowest performing schools in CPS more than half are charters or turnarounds.
* Of the 10 lowest-performing schools in CPS, seven are charters or turnarounds.
* Nearly nine out of 10 charter/turnaround schools are in the bottom half of CPS performance.
“In summary, charters and turnarounds are overrepresented among the schools with the lowest student growth, and not represented at all among schools with the highest student growth.”