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Education Week conducted a survey of graduation rates and discovered that charter high schools have lower graduation rates than public high schools.
Of course, charter apologists had many explanations and excuses but they apparently forgot their original claim that they would be far, far better than public schools.
A story by Arianna Prothero and Alex Hardin begins:
”At nearly 1,000 U.S. high schools, the chance of students graduating on time is no better than the flip of a coin. And charter schools—which were born to create more options for students—make up an outsized share of the number of public schools persistently graduating less than half of their students.
“An analysis of federal data by the Education Week Research Center identified 935 public high schools with four-year graduation rates of less than 50 percent in 2016-17, the most recent year available. Of those, 54 percent are charter schools. That’s one-quarter of all U.S. charter high schools, and nearly 3 percent of all public high schools.
“These numbers aren’t just a one-time blip. Many charter schools have suffered from chronically low graduation rates of below 50 percent since 2010-11.
“And the number of charters with low graduation rates could be even larger than the Education Week analysis reveals. That’s because some charter schools were excluded from the federal data set due to student privacy concerns. For its analysis, the Education Week Research Center also removed all schools labeled as “alternative” in the federal data.
“The data undercuts the idea that charters are a better option,” said Robert Balfanz, a Johns Hopkins University researcher who is a national authority on graduation-rate patterns. “If kids go to a charter high school where the norm is not to graduate, it’s not delivering on the promise of creating better, more successful schools for kids in need.”
“But some charter advocates and experts argue that it’s unfair to compare how charter high schools stack up against their traditional school peers when it comes to graduation rates…
”Charter schools were created more than 25 years ago as an alternative to the traditional school district system. Since then, the charter sector has slowly grown to about 7,000 schools educating 3 million students in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
”Underpinning the entire charter movement is the idea that with flexibility to innovate and compete for students, charter schools will deliver a superior education—one that’s tailored to the individual needs of students and parents.
“But with nearly a quarter-million students enrolled in charter high schools with an on-time graduation rate below 50 percent, it calls into question whether the sector is delivering on its mission.”
Well, yes, it does raise that question.
The Edweek coverage was funded by the Walton Family Foundation, which has claimed credit for opening one of every four charters in the nation. The Waltons will not be happy with this story.