Charter high schools in Detroit not making grade

Jul 7, 2011 by

Test scores for schools often trail DPS students’ average

Once touted as a solution to Detroit’s public school woes, charter high schools are often doing just about as poorly — and in many cases worse — at educating students and getting them ready for college, a Detroit News analysis of recent test data shows.

Of 25 charters in Detroit or nearby, only six had higher math or science proficiency scores than Detroit Public Schools’ average on the most recent Michigan Merit Exam, with most of the others doing worse than the district.

More charters did poorer in reading and writing as well; only in social studies did more charters surpass rather than trail DPS.

The results raise questions about the district’s plans to authorize additional charters in its search for improvement and could also renew the debate over whether charters are the answer to the riddle of urban education, where multiple strategies are often producing the same poor results.

“If charters do not outperform the host district, they ought not to have a charter,” said Margaret Trimer-Hartley, superintendent of the University Prep Science and Math Middle School in Detroit, a charter school.

One of the largest nationwide charter-schools studies found that nearly half of charter schools do as well as the local public school; more than a third did wo



rse, and just 17 percent did better.

“(The results are) a call to focus on the quality of charter schools,” said Dev Davis, research manager of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, which published the study in 2009. “It’s not a panacea. There are no magic bullets in education.”

Few dispute that DPS’s most recent scores were awful, with students scoring well below the state averages on the ACT and all five subject areas of the Michigan Merit Exam. The district’s students’ composite ACT score was 15 out of 36, down from the previous two years and well below the state average of 19.3.

via Schools | Charter high schools in Detroit not making grade | The Detroit News.

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