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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Huberman and Chicago charter school accountability

We appreciate the focus of the recent Chicago Sun-Times article by Rosalind Rossi titled “Ron Huberman: Raising the Bar on Charter Schools," which shined light on a matter of great concern to charter public school -- performance metrics. This is an important issue, and one that will continue to pop up in the education sphere again and again. In fact, a NY Times article today addressed a similar NCLB concern. Upon taking a closer look, you'll see that evaluation metrics for charters go above and beyond traditional school standards. Even before the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, charter public schools were tied to student performance and additional levels of accountability. In fact, the ability to implement academic innovation is linked to charter schools’ freedom to adapt to student needs and quickly act on them.

Unlike NCLB, which relies on “adequate yearly performance” as its main metric, charter schools have multiple metrics built into their accountability frame, including governance, budgetary, curricular, instructional and student performance. In Illinois, charter schools have been closed if they don’t meet these benchmarks. Imagine a traditional school administrator being dismissed for student performance or their financial stewardship. It’s hard to imagine traditional school systems being regularly evaluated in such a rigorous way.

Even with such rigorous metrics in place, Chicago charter schools are meeting AYP at much higher rates than traditional Chicago public schools: 50% to 34%, according to the CPS Office of Research, Evaluation and Accountability. Charter schools welcome accountability and our schools are always working on ways to measure and improve quality. But in Illinois, tests used by the state do not measure for student growth, aptitude and capabilities – all of which are important aspects of NCLB.

Don't you think we need to present the whole picture when it comes to Illinois children?

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