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Charter schools welcome challenge

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

To the editors:

There has been much written about charter schools following the release of the American Federation of Teachers’ controversial report ("Charter School Achievement on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress," August 2004) casting doubt on charter school effectiveness.

According to national data highlighted in the report, the percentage of charter school fourth graders scoring at or above basic levels in math was, on average, five percentage points below that of public school fourth graders. In reading, the difference was slightly less. The percentage of public school students at or above basic in reading was, on average, 3.5 percentage points higher than those in charter schools.

Some have tried to use these data to open the door or shut the door on charters. Others have politicized the issue, claiming the "unearthing" of the data was a union’s attempt to discredit charter schools. Still others say the "concealment" of data was a Republican Party attempt to keep its poster child fresh and unsoiled.

To others, like me, the data showed that charter schools are making progress and are not too far behind their public school counterparts. Of course, we have more work to do to catch up with our predecessors who have existed far longer – and we will. Last year, four schools out of 43 met adequate yearly progress or AYP. This year 20 charter schools met AYP, and more will next year. School District officials have also acknowledged the great progress of charter schools.

Charter schools offer parents a viable alternative to traditional public schools.

Laurada Byers
Alliance for Boards of Charter Schools,
Philadelphia Workgroup

ABC’s is a consortium of board members of charter schools committed to improving education and serving charter schools. Laurada Byers is also founder and board chair of the Russell Byers Charter School.

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