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Friday, December 28, 2012

Jason Fischer explains his data comment (rough draft)

I spoke with Jason Fischer and he explained his data comment to me. In a nutshell he doesn’t think it is fair to compare all charter schools to all public schools. Instead he wants to compare the individual data between comparable schools.

Say little Johnny attends Charter School A but is zoned to attend Public School B. Mr. Fischer wants to compare those two schools scores to see if Johnny is attending the school with the best data. That actually seems like a fair comparison and it is hard to understand why just a few days before 2013 we can’t do it but even that won’t tell the whole story.

We have to look at student populations to make sure problematic students aren’t counseled out thus bumping up the numbers and what other requirements like extended time or parental involvement that the charter schools put in place. Also it shouldn’t be ignored that charter school parents just through the mere fact their children attend them are typically more involved parents.

I know what some of you are thinking, how many more barriers am I going to insist on that would skew charter schools performance, what would make me happy? The thing is we should want to know all these variables because what we need is an accurate picture of what is going on, what is really working and what isn’t if we are going to improve our schools.

Also have you ever noticed that charter school proponents always say one of the reasons that charter schools are successful is they don’t have some of the onerous regulations and policies that public schools have and they can do different things but have you ever noticed they never say, you know what, we should get rid of some of the onerous regulations and policies that public schools have to endure and allow them to do different things too. It’s like it never occurs to them. Instead of fixing or improving what we have, they would rather replace them but I digress.

I think charter schools as parent teacher driven laboratories have a small role to play as a supplement to education. The problem is many of our education leaders and drivers want them to replace public education and at least right now, the aggregate data and I suspect the overall data even when closer comparisons are made doesn’t bare out that is a good move. Shouldn’t we slow down and get it right?  
I will take Mr. Fischer’s word that he will be data driven when making his decisions. I just hope other education leaders follow his lead. 

1 comment:

  1. There is a contingent that believes that school districts should use their authority to regulate charter schools as though they are traditional schools, essentially striping them of their autonomy. I regularly attempt to re-frame the argument to be that school districts should instead be pushing the state to deregulate traditional schools and grant them the same autonomy charter schools have.