Let’s look at pass rates for students who completed grade 8 in 2011:
Once again, the charter school cohort pass rates are marked by dotted green and purple lines, and the regular DC public school pass rates are marked by solid navy blue and red lines. And, once again, by the time these students reached the 8th grade, the pass rates in the charter school group have outstripped the pass rates in the regular public schools. The pass rate in math in the regular DC public schools for this group of students has risen by ten percentage points, but the corresponding figure for reading has dropped by eight percentage points from its highest level, reached in 2009.
So, once again, we see that Rhee-and-Kamras style Rhee-form hasn’t been working, even on its own terms.
Now, let’s look at the group of students who finished the 9th grade in 2011 (even though the 9th grade is not a testing year for the DC-CAS):
For this cohort, the pass rates in the regular DC public schools over the tested time periods, from 6th through 8th grade, have barely budged. However, in the charter schools, the gains in pass rates by this group of students have been considerable.
Last, let’s look at the changes in pass rates over the past four years for the group of students who just finished the 10th grade:
Here, the pattern we’ve seen before is somewhat reversed. The students in the 7th grade in the charter schools in 2008 passed the DC-CAS at much higher rates than their peers in the regular public schools. However, the pass rates for the charter school group have actually gone down since 2009, while the pass rates in the regular DCPS group have been slowly rising.
What accounts for the relative success in the charter schools in comparison to the noted general lack of improvement in the regular public schools? It’s hard to say right now, since each charter school or chain of charter schools is independent and has its own teaching methods.
1. Are the charter schools really teaching more effectively? (Not clear yet.)
2. Do the charter schools have a smaller fraction of students who don’t speak English as a first language? (Definitely.)
3. Do the charter schools have a lower proportion of special education students? (Yes, definitely.)
4. Do the charter schools ‘counsel out’ students who are disruptive and who don’t meet their academic and behavior standards? (Many observers say, yes.)
But one thing is for sure: Rhee-style educational Deform is a failure on its own terms.