Some public schools in Newark are among the best in the city, performing as well as charters in certain areas, according to the annual Kids Count survey to be released today.
Comparing test scores and demographic data, the report found public schools had the same passing rates on average as charters at the fourth grade level, thanks to a decade of significant academic gains.
The data appears to contradict the prevailing assumption about the consistent high quality of charter schools and their reputation as a panacea. It also belies the rhetoric from politicians and educators that Newark schools are uniformly bad…
Results of the study come at a crucial time for New Jersey’s schools. Gov. Chris Christie, who recently described Newark schools as "absolutely disgraceful," has called for a rigorous expansion of charter schools. At the same time, Newark has embarked on a $100 million reform effort bankrolled by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Roughly 5,300 students in Newark attend charter schools, accounting for a quarter of the state’s charter school enrollment, the report said. There are also nearly 6,600 parents on charter school waiting lists.
But at least at the elementary school (fourth grade) level, charters do not perform much better than their district counterparts, the report said.
In the 2008-09 school year, students in charter and district schools passed their math tests at the same rate — 54 percent. In the language arts category, the difference was miniscule: 41 percent of charter school students passed, compared to 40 percent in district schools…
"Charter school advocates over-exaggerate the successes of good charter schools, but underplay the significant number of failing charter schools," said Alan Sadovnik, co-director of the Newark Schools Research Collaborative…
One in three Newark children lives in poverty, a figure that has not budged in the last 10 years and is nearly three times the statewide average, the report said. Newark families with children also earn $50,000 less per year than the average New Jersey family…
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REPORT SHOWS FOURTH-GRADE STUDENTS IN N.J. PUBLIC, CHARTER SCHOOLS HAVE SAME PASSING RATES; November 10, 2010; The Star Ledger (Newark, NJ)