web analytics

Charter schools shoot themselves in both feet

Written By: - Date published: 2:03 pm, October 23rd, 2012 - 16 comments
Categories: education, making shit up, schools - Tags: ,

I notice that DPF is pushing data supposed to show the success of charter schools in New York (and of course pushing his anti-teacher agenda at the same time). The source is the WSJ:

New York City recently released official progress reports for the city’s 1,230 schools, including measures of how each school compares with other schools that have similar students. The reports provide yet more proof that charter schools—which outperformed traditional public schools by a wide margin—are working. Eight of the top 11 elementary and middle schools by student performance are charters, and four of those charters are in Harlem.

There many problems with this supposed success. Here’s one:

Something very similar happened in New York state, where unrevealed relaxations in state testing standards led to a multi-year belief in the efficacy of reforms there. When results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests revealed the gains were illusory, New York admitted the test changes, thereby wiping out half a decade of supposed achievement gains on math and language tests.

Who knows how much of this cooking the books goes on – here’s another example:

Gov. Tom Corbett’s education chief changed the PSSA testing rules in a way that makes it easier for charter schools to meet federal benchmarks than traditional public schools.

Education Secretary Ron Tomalis’ change, made without federal approval, might have skewed the results of the 2011-12 PSSA scores to make it appear charter schools were outperforming traditional public schools, according to a Morning Call review of publicly available test score data.

The proponents of charter schools shoot themselves in the foot with this kind of nonsense, because it means that no evidence purporting to show the success of charter schools can be trusted at face value. (The New Zealand version of charter schools are – surprise! – going to be able to opt out of national standards and NCEA – expect more dodgy data of self-reported success to start emanating from this country in due course.) And that’s before all the other ways of manipulating the results, like selective admissions, expelling “unsuccessful” students (a tactic of the New York schools the WSJ quotes), and so on.

Charter schools do worse more often than the do better, are bad for education in general. Our public education system is already very successful and very cost effective. If we want even better results, the solution is to strengthen public education, not to throw ourselves under the ideological bandwagon of charter schools.


16 comments on “Charter schools shoot themselves in both feet”

  1. Gosman 1

    The key point in the article that Kiwiblog discusses was the comparision between districts over time. In that respect it should not really matter if testing standards have been relaxed because supposedly they will have been relaxed for all schools and therefore do not explain the changes in the relative measurements between school districts.

    The great bastion of Social Democracy – Sweden – has gone big on Charter Schools with little evidence that they are failing students or that the leftist parties in Sweden are itching to get rid of them. I wonder why that is.

    • McFlock 1.1

      it should not really matter if testing standards have been relaxed because supposedly they will have been relaxed for all schools


      Gov. Tom Corbett’s education chief changed the PSSA testing rules in a way that makes it easier for charter schools to meet federal benchmarks than traditional public schools.

      my boldface both quotes.

      • Gosman 1.1.1

        Ummmmm…, if you had bothered to read that article you should have noticed it was about Pennsylvania not New York. Considering the article Kiwiblog is discussing is about the comparative performance of various schools in in another state entirely it is irrelevant unless the argument is about comparing Charter School against Public Schools in PENNSYLVANIA.

        • McFlock

          Actually – good call. Through shear weight of numbers you have managed to not spout bullshit.
          Of course, it calls into question your basic assumption that general rule relaxation doesn’t favour some schools over others, but nevertheless, good call. I read too quickly between taskings.

        • Dr Terry

          Not only New York as such, but in Harlem specifically. Anyone who has resided in New York, as I have, will understand the implications of this.

          Are you conceding that comparisons in Pennsylvania are not favourable? (I cannot imagine Gosman making too many concessions, actually. I wonder why?)

    • Dv 1.2

      >>testing standards have been relaxed because supposedly they will have been relaxed for all schools

      Interesting assumption

      >>with little evidence that they are failing students


      The report highlights evidence that shows a “moderately positive” impact of free schools on academic performance when pupils are 15 and 16, but adds: “The biggest beneficiaries are children from highly educated families; the impact on low educated families and immigrants is close to zero.”V

      The report also cites evidence that says: “The researchers also find that the advantages that children educated in areas with free schools have by age 16 do not translate into greater educational success in later life.”

      • Gosman 1.2.1

        All that suggests is that they aren’t as successful in Sweden as some would have hoped according to a particular meassure. It doesn’t support the view they are failing students.

        • Dv

          Didn’t say they were, BUT how are they going to improve the 10% tail, as they are suppose to as the impact on low educated families and immigrants is close to zero.

    • Georgecom 1.3

      sad thing Gosman is that the New York comments suggest that standardised testing and charter schools didn’t lead to a great leap in achievement levels. Supposed improvments were the result of ‘relaxation of standards’. The claims that standardised testing and charter schools improve achievements have been cast into doubt, yet again, by this report. On that basis, why bother investing tens of millions of dollars into programmes that are not proven to deliver what is claimed. The govt is apparently short of money. Why waste it on underachieving programmes.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.3.1

        This government is only short of money to help society be better. They’ve got plenty to give to their rich mates.

    • KJT 1.4

      Sweden has had a bit of a swing towards the Neo-liberal paradigm lately. And as expected are having the inevitable decline in social outcomes.
      Though as they started at a high level of social wages they have a longer way to fall than we did.

      • Colonial Viper 1.4.1

        I saw a recent speech by the Swedish finance minister on Youtube. Yeah a barely disguised neoliberal hack.

    • lprent 1.5

      The great bastion of Social Democracy – Sweden – has gone big on Charter Schools with little evidence that they are failing students or that the leftist parties in Sweden are itching to get rid of them. I wonder why that is.

      First off Sweden isn’t exactly a homogenous country nor is it uniformly liberal. I’d suggest you have a look at some of the local juristrictions which have quite a lot of autonomy. Especially their history since the war for “hooligans” and unwed mothers. Makes some of our worst excesses look tame.

      That is why they have a rather classic authoritarian second term government at present.

      I believe it was because their charter schools were highly regulated even beyond the state school regulations about what could or could not be done. That was all tha would pass the legislature. That reduced the amount of room there was to cut corners. Why are you trying compare apples with oranges? The intent here is to have extremely light regulation, whichis why an ACToid has been put in charge of the pilot programme.

      Charter schools, if implemented here, should be regulated up at least as far as the private schools in NZ that take state money and for exactly the same reasons. Using state money to finance nutters and/or low standards of basic education is unacceptable.

      As Dv pointed out the results were not particularly useful in target groups in Sweden that were the ostensible reason for creating the schools. They however were of use for getting state money to set up enclave schools for the already affluent. That kind of closed community is not acceptable either – it appears to be just a good way of manufacturing arrogant idiots. Bad enough seeing the silly buggers coming out of Kings..

  2. ianmac 2

    There is a long tail. We will have Charter Schools. Therefore the tail will be eliminated.
    Simple as 1+1=2. If John Banks can see it why can’t you? Hmmm?.
    Actually testing is the gremlin both as in NS and as in how to measure success. The Question is the Answer.
    Would those running our Charter schools cheat in order to get the funding and pump up their success? Doubt it. 😈
    Come to think of it, had National Standards not been shunted in front of Charter Schools, there might have been a good case for designing alternative schools to cater for specialised learning unfettered by normals and testing. Now the suspicion and doubt that has been thrust by Parata and the Ministry has made cooperation nil.

  3. captain hook 3

    I dont live in Pennsylvania.
    I live in New Zealand and I know that the promoters of charter schools in New Zealand are barely literate and posessed of anti everything ideas except their own weird beliefs.
    This is a case of not only loonies running the asylum but actually being given state money to build half assed versions for themselves.
    Is this really the democratic ideal?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • A charge on plastic bags – debunking some myths
    The launch of my Members’ Bill last week, which would introduce a 15 cent charge on single-use plastic bags at the check-out, has generated a lot of comment on mainstream and social media. From The Paul Henry Show at the ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 days ago
  • National’s $1trillion property sandcastle
    The National government's failure to fix the housing crisis has seen the ballooning and unsustainable property market touch the $1 trillion mark, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. "Labour wants an economy that creates high wage work that is based ...
    2 days ago
  • Government failure on housing crisis drives Reserve Bank to add tools
    If the Government was delivering a comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis, it is unlikely that the Reserve Bank would be continuing to pursue debt to income limits for lending for housing, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    3 days ago
  • International embarrassment for NZ likely over National’s failure to protect Maui dolphin
    New Zealanders who care about Maui dolphin should prepare to feel embarrassed: the Government is about to be put to shame on the international stage for its lack of action to protect Maui’s dolphin. The International Whaling Commissions’ 66th Biennial ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    5 days ago
  • Why don’t we spend $1b to keep people out of jail, rather than spending it on keeping them in?
    Earlier this week, Corrections Minister Judith Collins announced the government’s ‘solution’ to our burgeoning prison population. It seems that most, if not all, of Bill English’s hard-won surplus is going to disappear into another round of prison-building.  That must be ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    7 days ago
  • PKE Ship Sent Packing – Not Too Soon
    It is appropriate that the palm kernel expeller (PKE) ship off Tauranga has been sent packing. For weeks I have been saying this ship needed to be sent away, but it seems as if MPI has been trying to find ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning
    7 days ago
  • Do you #LoveSnow?
    I was a lucky kid. When I was about five or six my mum and auntie took me up to Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu and taught me to ski. As a young kid I thought there was no bigger ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    7 days ago
  • Awa Kairangi/Hutt River – Swimmable?
    On Thursday night I hosted a great swimmable rivers meeting organised by the local Greens in Heretaunga (Hutt Valley). It was great to see about 70 people attend and engage in the topic. We were welcomed by Te Atiawa representative ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    7 days ago
  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    7 days ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    7 days ago
  • Barry Coates on his first weeks in Parliament
    Week one in Parliament has been quite an occasion. I would like to share the experience. I had given up on the prospect of getting into Parliament before the election and had been enjoying the diverse work I was doing ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    7 days ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    1 week ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    1 week ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    1 week ago
  • Vote Sooty Shearwater/Tītī for Bird of the Year
    Sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) are amazing and deserve your vote in Forest and Bird’s Bird of the Year competition.  They make one of the longest known bird migrations, flying an annual round trip of 64,000 kms across the entire Pacific ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    1 week ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    1 week ago
  • Energy use going in the wrong direction
    New data out this week from Statistics NZ paints a concerning picture of energy use across the economy under this National Government. You won’t be surprised to hear that there is some seriously worrying information here about how dirty our ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 week ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    1 week ago
  • Junior Doctors go on Strike
    Thousands of junior doctors took strike action for 24 hours this week for better working conditions and safer working hours.  The Green Party supports their cause, and particularly their claims to reduce the number of days worked from up to ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    1 week ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    1 week ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    1 week ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Strengthening our relationship with the Rātana movement
    It was a privilege to visit Rātana Pā last week with fellow Greens’ Co-leader James Shaw, our Māori Caucus and senior staff to meet with the leaders of te iwi mōrehu, to strengthen the ties between the Green Party and ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    2 weeks ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Disconnected thinking dirties the water
    Iain Rabbitts’ belief that drinking water quality, charging for water use and the land use that leads to water quality degradation should be treated separately is part of the problem we have right now in this country. The connection is ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Report back from Hands Off Our Tamariki hui
    This week I attended a hui in Otaki organised by Hands Off Our Tamariki about the proposed reforms to the Child Young Persons and their Families Act. Moana Jackson and Paora Moyle spoke.  They expressed deep, profound concern about the proposed ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s visionless immigration policy
    National’s recent immigration announcement is a continuation of the visionless approach to government that it has displayed in the last three terms. Rather than using the levers of government to implement a sustainable immigration policy that benefits new and current ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seclusion rooms in schools
    Schools are undoubtedly stretched and underfunded to cope with students with high learning support needs. But this cannot justify the use of rooms (or cupboards) as spaces to forcibly isolate children. It has emerged via media that this practice continues ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Public should get a say on new Waikato power station
    I had an opinion piece published in the Waikato Times about a controversial proposal to build a new gas-fired power station. It’s not on their website yet, so here it is: If you think the public would get a say ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • MSD and their investment approach
    The Government talks about investment but there is no investment. It is not investment if it isn’t over the whole of life and if there is no new money  — Shamubeel Eaqub   Investment sounds like adequate resourcing but this ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Certainty needed for community services
    A couple of months ago I was at a seminar where three community organisations were presenting. Two of the three presenters were waiting to find out if their organisation would get a contract renewed with MSD. Not knowing if their ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Domestic Violence – some advice for the media
    For the purpose of this piece, I’m going to use Domestic Violence (DV) as a proxy for intimate partner violence. DV is not isolated to physical abuse in a relationship between people with the same power. DV is a pattern of ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 weeks ago
  • Leroy’s New Paw Prints
    Leroy, an Auckland great dane recently received a new 3D printed bionic leg after cancer was discovered. I think this is a fantastic story and highlights the real potential of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing Leroy’s prosthetic was printed in titanium and was ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    3 weeks ago