As Indiana forges ahead with a plan that could make it the most charter school friendly state in the country, some school officials are pointing to testing results that they say show that charter schools don’t always make the grade.
Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer cited a statewide ranking of ISTEP scores that found that some of the lowest results among third graders statewide were from charter schools.
“What are we really accomplishing by siphoning off the funding for public schools if that’s their performance level?” Baer said. “To me it makes no logic.”
Indiana State Teachers Association President Nate Schnellenberger offered different statistics: Of the top 100 performing schools on ISTEP in all grade levels, only one was a charter school. And of the 50 worst ISTEP scores, 31 came from charter schools.
“The idea that charter schools are some panacea ... simply is not true,” he said.
Independently, the Chesterton Tribune reviewed charter school ISTEP scores from the latest round of testing last spring. Among the various grade levels, 60 to 75 percent of charter schools’ results were below state average in both the English/language arts and math portions of ISTEP test…
A proposal moving forward in the Indiana Legislature would set the stage for an “unfettered expansion” of charter schools in Indiana, Schnellenberger said. The bill, HB 1002, would allow more sponsors of charter schools, including mayors of second class cities and certain private colleges and universities…
Schnellenberger said ISTA’s position is that at a time when funding for existing public schools is diminishing, focusing on charter schools is the wrong way to go.
“To me, it’s more about privatizing public education than anything else,” he said.
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ISTEP RESULTS: CHARTER SCHOOLS FAILING TO MEASURE UP? February 14, 2011; Chesterton Tribune (Northwest Indiana)