Study Charter schools hit state standards less often
November 23, 2004

A new study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, which compares the achievement of students in charter schools with those attending traditional public schools in five states, has concluded that the charter schools were less likely to meet state performance standards.

In Colorado, for instance, the study found that 98 percent of public schools met state performance requirements, but that 90 percent of the charter schools did. Even when adjusted for race and poverty, the study said, the charter schools fell short more frequently by a statistically significant amount.
The study added new data to a highly politicized debate between charter school supporters, including senior officials in the Bush administration, and skeptics who question the performance of the publicly financed but privately managed schools.
Deputy Education Secretary Eugene Hickok minimized the report's significance even as he released the results. But academics who were critical of charter school performance called it an important contribution.
"In five case-study states, charter schools are less likely to meet state performance standards than traditional public schools," the report says. Those states, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts and North Carolina, all have made significant public investments in charter schools.
The report's finding appears to present a new complication for the Bush administration as it seeks to implement the No Child Left Behind law, which prescribes that public schools failing to meet achievement objectives may be converted into charter schools.
The new study also provided new statistical data showing that charter schools, which tend to be located in cities, serve higher percentages of minority youths than traditional public schools, but fewer special-education students.
Black students made up 27 percent of charter school students during the 1999-2000 year, compared with 17 percent in regular public schools, the report said.
Some 21 percent of charter students were Hispanic, compared with 15 percent in regular schools, it said.