making-up-ground game

Study: Students gain by attending city charter schools, usually

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A chart from the latest CREDO study about city charter schools shows that students at many charter schools make outsized gains in math. But in reading, charter school students tend fall behind more often, researchers found.

City students benefit from attending city charter schools, according to a new study — but the advantages are not universal.

The study, by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, which analyzes charter school performance, concluded that city charter school students, on average, learn five more months of math each year than similar students in neighboring schools. In Harlem, where the charter school enrollment share is highest, the math gain was seven months, the researchers found.

And in reading, charter school students averaged one month’s additional learning each year, the researchers found. All of the gains were measured by students’ state test scores.

Yet within the sector, some schools did far better than the average — and others far worse. The study found that nearly two thirds of charter schools moved their students forward in math significantly farther than other schools in the area. But a full quarter of charter schools moved their students forward significantly less in reading.

In 2010, CREDO found that students at New York City charter schools advanced in math and reading faster than students at schools operated by the city Department of Education. The new study looks at a larger number of schools and also uses a methodology that CREDO has applied elsewhere. The methodology compares actual charter school students’ performance to that of “virtual twins” in district schools — students who are demographically identical and start with similar academic skills.

In almost all cases where students in charter and district schools had statistically significant differences, students’ test scores increased faster in charter schools than in district schools. All of the exceptions were for reading scores — for black and Hispanic students, where students on average did slightly worse; students in schools that spanned many grades; students in their first year at a charter school; and students in schools that do not belong to charter management organizations.

The study draws special attention to the 46 percent of charter schools whose student achievement on state reading tests was lower than the city average — and whose students made less progress than average, too.

“The number that demands attention is the nearly 46 percent of New York City charter schools that have both low growth and low achievement in reading,” Devora Davis, the lead author of the CREDO report said in a statement. “If things continue as they are students in these schools may be at risk of falling further behind their peers in the state over time.”

Charter school advocates said the 46 percent number was misleading because it was based on a calculation with a larger margin of error than most of those in the report. But they said low-performing and high-performing schools should both get a closer look. Nationally, the charter sector is lobbying charter school authorizers to close more low-performing charter schools.

“These results should finally ignite a conversation around what is working in these schools, and how successful practices can be spread so that many more students in both traditional and charter public schools can benefit,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, in a statement.

And Bill Phillips, president of the Northeast Charter Schools Network, said the findings helped make the case for charter schools to be able to secure state funding for pre-kindergarten, an issue that is at the top of the charter sector’s agenda for the year.

And a spokesman for the city Department of Education said the report’s findings proved that school choice is benefiting students.

“This report further validates our strategy to offer families high quality school options,” said the spokesman, Devon Puglia. “We’re continuing to stay focused on building a system of great schools, and on improving outcomes in all of them — district and charter.”

Because so many Harlem students attend charter schools — 25 percent during the period analyzed in the study — the researchers could take a closer look at the impact of schools there on different kinds of students. They found that poor students, low-scoring students, and students who have repeated grades all make gains faster in charter schools. English language learners and students with special needs did not post significantly different growth in the two kids of schools.

The full CREDO report is below:

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.