New York State Exposed Education: Why are charter school Common Core test scores so much better?

Updated: 08/18/2014 5:52 PM
Created: 08/18/2014 4:14 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

There is something happening in education in our city that we think you ought to know about and maybe this will change your opinion of where our city is going.

Last week we showed you a small but noticeable increase in Common Core test scores with young city school students. But when you compare results with some charter schools, the charter school results are off the charts.

So what are they doing to get those results?

Rochester Prep is one of a handful of charter schools in the city. Just like district schools in the city -- most of the students are minorities and most are poor. But if you talk to the parents, like the father of Kimani Bailey -- there is a sense of hope. Paul Bailey said, "The teachers are great with the kids and their way of teaching them it's different."

Let's take a look at the third and fourth grade test numbers.

English Language Arts
3rd Grade Proficiency
Rochester Prep: 52%
RCSD: 5%

4th Grade Proficiency
Rochester Prep: 40%
RCSD: 7%

3rd Grade Proficiency
Rochester Prep: 72%
RCSD: 11%

4th Grade Proficiency
Rochester Prep: 54%
RCSD: 12%

Click here to see all the Charter School test results and compare them to the city district school results

And remember, those district school numbers are up from where they used to be.

Geoff Rosenberger is the president of the board of Rochester Prep. He says 86-percent of his students are eligible for free and reduced lunches. So the questions is, how do they do it? "There's no one thing. There's 100 different things. It's 100 little things that we do every day but primarily it's discipline."

One big difference is class time.  

Kindergarten at Rochester Prep starts this Thursday. The first of school for every other student is next Monday -- a full week ahead of district schools.

Last week, Rochester City School District Superintendent Bolgen Vargas talked about improvements in test results in his schools. "We saw some encouraging numbers particularly in math. We definitely have a long way to go but we're headed on the right path."

Rosenberger says this issue will define our future. "Here's the thing and I'll just be blunt. You can't fix poverty until you fix education. You can't fix the racial tensions in the country until you fix education because racial tension is no longer about segregated rest rooms or about segregated buses, it's about economic inequality. Fixing this is at the core of so many of the ills that we talk about as a society and if you care about those other things, then you have to care about this."

Charter schools are a lightning rod. We heard from many people on Twitter that they select their students, pull the best ones from city schools and get rid of students who don't perform. Rochester Prep says its lottery is fair and its poverty rate is the same as district schools.

If you want to make a difference in district schools, one way is to volunteer. Click here to learn more.

Charter schools are public schools. Your tax dollars pay for this education. What your taxes do not pay for are their buildings and Rosenberger says that's where you can influence your state lawmaker.  

"To make sure that charter school kids have a roof over their heads, have a facility, have a funding mechanism that provides for buildings which right now they don't have," Rosenberger said. 

"If they support the charter idea," I said.  

"If they support the charter idea. But the evidence is pretty powerful that charters are working."

Charter school decisions are made by the State Department of Education and the Education Committees in the State Assembly and Senate. 

Click here to reach the Assembly Education Committee members

Click here to reach the Senate Education Committee members

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