Andrew Martin, former teacher and current director of special projects at KIPPNJ, drills down on student achievement data in Newark. He’s honest about former superintendent Cami Anderson’s office’s ham-handed outreach – a stakeholder remarked, “It’s as if you guys are going out of your way to foment the most opposition possible to what you’re doing” – but unbowed by the fierce anti-charter rhetoric that has led to child-unfriendly proposals like a charter school moratorium.
Here’s a fact: Newark children are better off. Shouldn’t that be the most important measure?
As Martin says, “for Newark’s neediest kids, the achievement data shows five years of slow, steady improvement — almost entirely because of the movement to high-performing charters.”
Please read Martin’s entire discussion at The74, but here are a few important points that dismantle Newark’s anti-charter rhetoric.
Parents, especially African-American ones, are flocking to charter schools and their children reap the benefits:
- “Charters enrolled 42 percent of the city’s African-American students last year, and are on pace to enroll fully half of the city’s African-American population in the 2015-16 school year, or soon thereafter.”
- “For 2014, the most recent year that data is available, more than 40% of the black students enrolled in Newark charters attended a school that beat New Jersey’s average in their grade/subject. In district schools, that was only true for 6% of student”
The shift from district schools to charters isn’t even across the city:
- “Schools in the South and West wards, historically the city’s lowest performing, have seen parents defect in droves to charter options.”
- In the East Ward, primarily Hispanic and Portuguese, enrollment in district schools is up.
Myths about the impact of school closures abound.
- But even before the rapid charter expansion of the last few years, enrollment at district schools “had steadily fallen for more than a decade, with only 250 students remaining, often in ‘grade levels’ that consisted of a single classroom. Under KIPP’s management, 565 K-4 students filled up the building, and significant resources were invested in repairs and upgrades to the physical plant. The students who used to attend the school were guaranteed seats in the new school. That’s not a school closure — that’s a school revitalization.”
Newark charter schools aren’t “creaming off” top students, those from more motivated and/or wealthier families, and those without disabilities:
- “Contrary to some critic’s claims, charter growth hasn’t “eviscerated” the district — at least not from a student achievement perspective.” NPS scores are flat, “about the same in 2014 as it was in 2006…That sameness to the Newark Public Schools’ performance also means that the much stronger showing of charter schools when compared to the state average cannot be explained by high-performing students selectively leaving district schools for charters. “
- “While the data for students with special needs suggests more can be done (like the enrollment preferences created in One Newark), it’s hard to argue with a straight face that a 5 percentage point difference in special education status explains the enormous differences in outcomes between charter and district schools.”
- “ In the last school year, Newark charters enrolled a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students than the district did.”