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Closer look at Pa. charter schools

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Important facts were omitted in Kate Wilcox's article regarding the Center for Research on Education Outcomes' charter school study (“Pa. charter students' skills fall far short, study reveals,” July 8 and TribLIVE.com).

CREDO's research included test results from only 61,770 of the 119,000 Pennsylvania charter school students, then extrapolated to all 119,000. The study does not tell us which schools were included or excluded or the basis for selection.

The article summarizes a 95-page report and includes generalizations that, if taken as a full analysis of a situation, will lead to false conclusions or bad policy.

We must dig deeper into the research to understand exactly where the problems are and then replicate the high-performing charter schools and close those that cannot, or will not, improve.

We do not dismiss the CREDO results. But we put them in context to what is really happening in education. There is a significant difference between running data through a computer algorithm in California and working face to face with children and parents in Pittsburgh.

Buried inside the article is a statement from CREDO that says “not everything is about scores.” The fact that 119,000 parents chose charter schools and 44,000 are on waiting lists is a strong indication that parents see them as their children's best hope.

Underperforming public schools of all types exist in Pennsylvania, and it is our responsibility as educators to ensure we provide every child a high-quality seat.

Robert Fayfich

The writer is executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.

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