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On Reading, Charters Outperform

The most recent round of reading tests show students attending charter schools in the city outperforming other public schools on reading tests.

A professor of education at Columbia Teachers College who studies charter schools, Jeffrey Henig, cautioned not to draw conclusions from the ten-point difference disclosed in the Sun's analysis. "Doing simple comparisons across one point in time is dangerous and misleading," Mr. Henig said. A fair assessment would chart each student's individual test score gains over time, he said, and would also control for outside factors like poverty, disabilities, and parental involvement.

Mr. Henig also pointed to the problem of selection bias. New York City charter schools have the same portion of low-income students as the rest of the city, 74%, more black students — 66% compared to 33% — and fewer Latinos, a department of education spokeswoman, Melody Meyer, said. But Mr. Henig said research shows teachers sometimes shuttle a disproportionate number of troubled or ambitious students into charters. "The question is, how do you sort that out?" he said. "You need better data."

This article appeared in the May 29, 2007 edition of the New York Sun. 


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