Public charter schools are judged by their results: whether or not students are achieving academically and being well prepared for success in college and beyond. Charter schools align to the same New York state standards, and take the same state exams, as other public schools. If a charter school isn’t helping students achieve, it can be closed.
New York State completed the 2014-15 school year and the third year of the Common Core era. Overall, charter schools in NYC continue to significantly exceed district proficiency rates in Math (44% proficient to 35% for district students) and lag the district in ELA, though the gap is small overall, just +1.1 percentage points. However, performance by African-American and Hispanic students in charter schools far exceeds that of their district counterparts. Given that charter schools enroll mostly students from these two subgroups (over 90%), this finding is significant and highly promising.
New York State entered the 2013-14 school year—the second year of the Common Core era—with a pointed awareness of the challenges revealed by the 2012-13 test scores. Gains made in Math are particularly notable—over nine percentage points in proficiency (the largest gain for any group or sector)—and underscored by data showing that 15 of the 20 highest gainers among New York States’ high-poverty schools were charters (most located in NYC).
Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released a comprehensive Urban Charter Schools Report and 22 state-specific reports that combine to offer policymakers unprecedented insight into the effectiveness of charter schools. Across 41 regions, urban charter schools on average achieve significantly greater student success in both math and reading, which amounts to 40 additional days of learning growth in math and 28 days of additional growth in reading.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new School Renewal Program to improve 94 of the city’s most struggling schools. The program includes practices that are hallmarks of top charter schools, but a comparison of Renewal School plans to charter school practices reveals consistent differences in urgency and intensity. As NYC DOE continues to define, implement and strengthen this high- stakes program, as well as prepare support and turnaround plans for hundreds of other schools, charter schools stand ready to share their work.
The 2012-13 school year marked a new era for public education in New York State, as teachers and students directed their work according to the Common Core State Standards: a new and more demanding set of academic benchmarks designed as a path to real college readiness.
Charter Center CEO James Merriman says we “should applaud the impressive scores of highly successful charters, including the Success, Icahn, Achievement First, and Uncommon Schools networks, and independent schools including South Bronx Classical Charter School and Bronx Charter School for Excellence, as well as those traditional district schools that are beating the odds. If there was ever a time to learn from our best schools, whether charter or district, it’s today.”