Last September, it was reported that about 50% of charter schools in the state were proficient, hitting the benchmarks mandated by No Child Left Behind. Four months later, that number has dipped to 28%. Philly’s percentage drop was about the same. What happened?
Well, last September, the state–without permission from the federal government–began using a controversial, locally-based method of calculating charter school proficiency that used “broader, less-stringent” criteria than used for traditional public schools. After the PA School Boards Association complained, the feds forced Pennsylvania to re-calculate, using the criteria it always had. Using the new, more accurate numbers, PA’s traditional public schools now outperform the state’s charter schools. In Philly, however, 29% of Philly’s charter schools are proficient, compared to just 13% of traditional public schools.
Then, of course, there’s the question of whether the metrics used by No Child Left Behind have any merit at all. Remember, the Obama administration is helping states opt out of NCLB. But for now, they remain important, because they help determine schools’ funding formulas. [Inquirer]