Under The Hood

From New Orleans via CREDO more evidence that when discussing charter schools (or any school for that matter) you have to look under the label to see what’s going on.

6 Replies to “Under The Hood”

  1. Comparing charters to RSD direct run schools isn’t a very high bar. Those are the worst schools in the city (probably state). Learning that RSD charters are on average better than the worst schools isn’t very helpful. Another fail from CREDO.

  2. The issue with assessing “quality” in charter schools is that our definition of such is so inflexible; charters do a wonderful job, in many cases, of drilling students to ace standardized test scores, but not always to promote critical thinking skills; there was a great study of Massachusetts charters that showed their top-ranked scores but went on to track their students to college– where most dropped out…

    I’ve been enjoying this bloggers take on the issue:


  3. Having taught and lived in Orleans Parish both before and after the storm, I can safely say that the Credo results do not indicate the level of success proponents of charters schools would like to believe. For these reasons:
    1. A great many of the most impoverished and challenging students were those in the projects: St. Bernard, Iberville and Calliope to name a few. Many of these students did not return to the city. If pre-storm test results were used as a base, they would not be a valid comparison.
    2. Having been involved with more than one charter and through conversations with many other educators, it was widely know that schools were carefully “selecting” students so as to get the highest achievers possible.
    3. Conversely, most charters eliminated students that they thought would negatively influence test scores.

    With this in mind, a success rate of only slightly more than 50% based solely on standardized tests is not reason for claiming much success.

  4. I just reviewed the list of schools categorized by their level of performance and saw some even more glaring reasons to discount the Credo results. First, Ben Franklin has always been a highly selective high school and never has taken many average or below average students. In addition it has never accurately reflected the racial makeup of the city. The same is true for the Lusher schools. They have always been dominate by uptown parents and the children of Tulane, Loyola, Xavier and LSU Med. School employees. In addition, I know, especially concerning Lusher, from friends who work there, that they sought the better students from elsewhere in the city.

  5. nelson–

    this is the study:

    Merseth, Katherine. (January 2010). “High-Performing Charter Schools: Serving Two Masters?” pp27-39 in: “Hopes, Fears & Reality: A Balanced look at American Charter Schools in 2009,”

    an excerpt from a paper I wrote on charters:

    In a two-year qualitative study on high-performing charter schools in Massachusetts conducted by the Harvard School of Education, researchers observed three charter schools that achieved the highest scores in the state’s 10th grade reading and math tests, outperforming every public school in the state (Merseth 27). While these results would imply a school-wide tendency for excellence, researchers found that the same students performed less than satisfactorily on college-entrance exams like the SAT and did not have exemplary college-attendance rates, “raising questions about whether policymakers and leaders of the charter movement are asking charter schools to serve two masters- high achievement on state basic competency measures and outstanding results on college readiness tests” (Merseth 28). In this study, researchers visited over 70 classrooms and found an extreme focus on state curriculum, intensive and tightly packed lesson plans, and a tendency to require students to fulfill after-school hours preparing for state tests. While these methods clearly ready students for perceived academic success by those who are in charge of allocating charters, the Harvard study proved that achieving state standards is an entirely different beast than preparing students for real-world success; the schools examined were criticized for focusing more on standardized testing than on “encouraging the kinds of conceptual, higher-order thinking skills that intellectual work in college (or on the job) requires”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.