Minnesotans for Better Education, Standards and Testing

Minnbest is a non-partisan, broad based coalition of parents, educators and school advocacy groups who believe excellent public education is a foundation of democracy in America.

8/20/2004

EXTRA! EXTRA! Rod Page is an Idiot and should have been fired!

Faced with reality, Rod Page chooses to blame the data.

Paige supports charter schools

He challenges data showing they lag

BY DIANA JEAN SCHEMO

New York Times

WASHINGTON — The federal secretary of education said Tuesday he stood by charter schools and challenged the conclusion of recent test data that their performance largely trailed that of regular public schools.

The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, reported Tuesday, were extracted by researchers at the American Federation of Teachers from data the Education Department released without public announcement in November. It was the first national comparison of test scores between charter schools and regular public schools.

Education Secretary Rod Paige said an erroneous analysis "… made no distinction between students falling behind and students climbing out of the hole in which they found themselves." He added: "It is wrong to think of charter schools as a monolith. There are schools for dropouts, schools for students who've been expelled, schools serving the most economically disadvantaged families. Charters are as diverse as the children they educate."

Paige, who declined to address questions directly, added: "The thousands of names on waiting lists to attend charter schools attest to the need for these vital educational options."

The data showed fourth-graders attending charter schools were a half-year behind students in other public schools in reading and math. Since most children attending charter schools are from poor areas, researchers looked at low-income students in both settings and still found those in charters doing significantly worse.

The secretary's reaction prompted surprise from Darvin Winnick, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the national test. Winnick said that while he would interpret the scores with caution, he did not see much cause for arguing with the outcomes themselves.

"The data is probably what it is," Winnick said.

Union officials rejected Paige's notion that charter schools and other public schools could not be compared because charters catered to a wide variety of students. They noted that regular public schools did the same.