I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Challenge for Chris Cerf

Here's the statement from NJDOE Commissioner Chris Cerf about today's CREDO charter report (thx Mother Crusader). The money quote:
Key findings from the report:
·       School level: “At the school level, 30 percent of the charter schools have significantly more positive learning gains than their TPS (traditional public school) counterparts in reading, while 11 percent of charter schools have significantly lower learning gains.  In math, 40 percent of the charter schools studied outperform their TPS peers and 13 percent perform worse.  These school-level results are notably more positive than the analogous pattern presented in the 2009 report.” [emphasis mine]
Got that? This is at the "school level." Cerf says charters outperform their "TPS (Traditional Public School) peers."

Here's the challenge:

Commissioner Cerf, name one TPS school in Newark that has essentially the same student population as Robert Treat Academy.

You can't. Here are some charts from Bruce Baker:
Figure 2. % Free Lunch
Look at RTA, with the lowest Free Lunch population in Newark. There is no peer school for RTA. 

How about special education classifications?

Figure 5. Special Education Distributions
RTA has 16 kids who get speech services and no other children who are classified as special education. Can you tell me with a straight face there are public schools in Newark that have the same low SpecEd rate, and the low ELL rate, and the low rate of Free Lunch qualifiers as RTA?

There are no peer schools for Robert Treat Academy - or any other high-flying charter - in Newark. It is deceptive to state or imply that there are.

The CREDO study created "virtual" schools for statistical purposes. It does not compare high-flying charters to schools with the same student population. It can't - they don't exist. That's not a criticism of their methods; they did the best they could with the data they have. But it's wrong to say the 30% of charters who do better have "counterpart" public schools. They simply do not; you could argue the students have "counterparts," but the schools don't. This study is arguably really about peer effect.

Let's see who in the local punditocracy gets this...

Will this be the Star-Ledger Editorial Board? Stay Tuned...


sean crowley said...

They don't care what the data says unless they are using it to attack teachers or label public schools as "failing." Isn' tit ironic the way these data fetishists can't ever seem to get any of their data to align with their cock and bull fantasies about education? But then again when none of them know anything about education they are free to make it up as they go and hope nobody is paying attention. The same strategies served Dubya for 8 years and look how far the privatizers have come using the same approach.

giuseppe said...

I was listening to NPR this afternoon and this report was described as hailing charter schools as being much more successful than real public schools (charter schools are fake public schools, in my opinion). There was no nuance or in depth reporting because it was just a brief news blurb on NPR. You came away from the news item with the message that charter schools are good, regular public schools are failing. Sigh, the crap never ends. I'd like to know how these charter schools compare to the highly successful suburban schools such as in Princeton, West Windsor or South Brunswick, etc. Christie, Cerf and all the deformers will be using this report to beat up on union teachers and the real public schools. So sad and so predictable.

ed notes online said...

A bigger challenge for Cerf one day will be avoiding being carted off to jail.

Tiffany Streat said...

As a taxpayer and someone vested in education, this is what I want to find out....

1. How much did the report cost?

2. More Importantly, who paid for the report?

could it be the Broad Foundation?

3. Even more importantly, why can't our own state department of education do this? What happened to our whole NJ Smart program?