A report published on January 6, 2012 by the University of Colorado’s National Education Policy Center, indicated, “The number of students in virtual schools run by educational management organizations rose sharply last year…and far fewer of them are proving proficient on standardized tests compared with their peers in other privately managed charter schools and in traditional public schools,” according to The New York Times.
In the 2010-11 school year, 93 virtual schools run by private management companies provided instruction either entirely or mostly over the Internet for about 116,000 students. This figure was up 43 percent from the prior year. And when it comes to results, only 27 percent of these online schools made “adequate yearly progress” (AYP), the standard mandated by No Child Left Behind to measure academic progress. This figure is about half the rate of students in all traditional public schools nationally as well as privately managed bricks and mortar charter schools whose rate was nearly 52 percent.
On Average, Pennsylvania’s Charter Students Perform Worse than Traditional Public School Students
The results of a study conducted at Stanford University and published in April 2011 showed that “students in Pennsylvania charter schools on average make smaller learning gains” than they would have if they’d stayed in traditional public school classrooms. “In both reading and math, all eight cyber schools perform significantly worse than their traditional public school counterparts.” Overall scores for brick and mortar charter schools were as follows:
• Reading — 35 percent perform “significantly better” than traditional public schools but 34 percent perform “significantly worse.”
• Math –27 percent perform “significantly better” but 42 percent perform “significantly worse.”
The remainder of the students, in both reading and math, had scores that were about the same.
This data reinforce previous research carried out in 2,403 charter schools in 15 states as well as the District of Columbia and published in June 2009 — charter school performance is sometimes equal to, and sometimes lower than, the performance of traditional public schools.
Even the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, agrees that the results of school choice – including vouchers and charter schools – are disappointing. In an Op-Ed article published by The New York Times on May 4, 2010 titled “Why Charter Schools Fail the Test,” scholar, Charles Murray reviewed an evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program conducted by The University of Arkansas’ education research center. This non-partisan, rigorous study looked at the effects of school choice policy. Murray concluded, “The latest evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the oldest and most extensive system of vouchers and charter schools in America, came out last month, and most advocates of school choice were disheartened by the results.” Over 3,000 students enrolled in the choice program were matched with students from traditional public schools. He noted that they had “achievement growth rates that are comparable to similar Milwaukee public-school students.” He further concluded, “This is just one of several evaluations of school choice programs that have failed to show major improvements in test scores, but the size and age of the Milwaukee program, combined with the rigor of the study, make these results hard to explain away.”