While test scores for charter students lag behind the statewide average, the schools outperformed public schools in their districts last year, according to data released by the state Tuesday.
Several experts said the data is misleading because it does not account for the higher number of special needs students in public schools. Though charter schools cannot discriminate against special education or non-English speaking students, many of those families do not apply, said Bruce Baker, associate professor at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education.
"Comparisons of average scores or proficiency rates between New Jersey charters and host districts are meaningless," Baker said.I'm glad Bruce is in their rolodex, and they should talk to him whenever he's willing to take their calls. But still: this is the #1 paper in NJ. Education is the governor's top issue. And anyone who studies charter schools even a little knows that differing populations is the primary criticism of charter schools' claims of success. People who write this stuff should be up on this, and they shouldn't just parrot whatever comes out of the governor's office without taking some time to see if it's nothing more than spin.
Oh, and if you had any high hopes about our new commissioner of education:
Uh, you do know that is completely contradicted by the data, don't you, Chris?Christoper Cerf, the acting state education commissioner, dismissed the criticism of the data, arguing charter students usually enter their new schools at a lower achievement level than their peers in their districts."I think that argument is flawed because it fails to take into account that charter school students are disproportionately students from challenging economic circumstances," Cerf said.