The state released its first evaluation of charter schools this week. It details the academic outcomes and enrollment at Indiana’s 93 charter schools.
Overall students at traditional public school districts scored higher on state tests than those in charter schools, according to the elevation. Yet, minority students in charter schools have a higher pass rate than peers at district schools.
But some, including State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, took issue with the report because it only compares charter schools to a select number of public school districts. The State Board of Education discussed the report Wednesday.
“When I get our A-to-F of traditional public schools we don’t do a comparison of like-schools … it’s all schools.” McCormick says referring to the report’s analysis method. “So I think that is concerning for a lot of people.”
McCormick also raised concern with data that shows 23 charter schools closed since 2011.
The report compares five types of charter schools to 15 traditional school corporations. Those districts were picked by having the most number of students enrolled in a charter school that have a legal residence within its boundaries.
Ron Sandlin, the report author and State Board of Education senior director of school performance and transformation, says a reason to compare charter schools to nearby school districts was that its an industry standard and concern over the accessibility. All students across the state, he says, don’t have easy access to charter schools.
But Vince Bertram says by not comparing the 93 charter schools against all traditional public schools, Sandlin creates a comparison that exists in no other place in the state accountability system.
The report found a greater percentage of low-income and minority students enrolled at charter schools than those public school districts. It also showed students at charter schools offering a fully online education had the lowest academic growth on statewide assessments.
Students in grades 4-8 at charter schools had 1.42 points more of academic growth than students at traditional public schools. For high schools, students at charter schools earned 18 points more of academic growth than peers at traditional public schools.
A 2015 state law requires the report, called the Formal Evaluation of the Overall State of Charter School Outcomes in Indiana, to be compiled every five years.
Board member David Freitas called on the board to discuss the quality of charter school authorizers at a later meeting.
Here are other things about Indiana charter schools in 2016-2017.
- 44,444 students, or 3.9 percent of total public school enrollment, is enrolled at a charter school.
- 93 charter schools in 2016-2017: Traditional model (67), Hybrid (5), Virtual or online (4), Adult high school (12), Special population, such as teens battling addiction (5) Eight approved charter school authorizers in the state;
- 85% of all charter schools were authorized by Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, Ball State University, or the Indiana Charter School Board.
- Almost 85 percent of charter school students live within a district that has a higher percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals than the state average.
- 28 percent of students within Indianapolis Public Schools corporation boundaries attend a charter school
- 43.2 percent of students within Gary Community Schools corporation boundaries attend a charter school