Rick Scott and Gerard Robinson’s Transparent Attempt to Promote Charter Schools

January’s news that school districts would be ranked by FCAT data makes sense now doesn’t it? Ricks Scott and Gerard Robinson knew they could skew the numbers to make their charter schools look good. From Robinson of last week’s release of data which purports to demonstrate the superiority of charter schools:

“This report clearly demonstrates that charter schools are a viable option for parents,” said Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. “Charter schools offer a wide range of educational environments to meet the needs of students and their families.”

Robinson long ago demonstrated he wasn’t going to be an honest broker when it came to charter schools. Last October  he said that a charter school’s past performance doesn’t matter and shouldn’t be a consideration when they apply to open another. He was a feature speaker at a charter school pep rally  held in Tallahassee during the last session. Desperate to create good news for his charter school allies, Robinson’s baked data  from schools who cherry-pick their students isn’t fooling many.

Miami-Dade officials questioned whether the new report had statistically significant results or fairly compared students.

While about a quarter of the state’s charter school students live in Miami-Dade County, the analysis was spread across the state, said Gisela Feild, administrative director of assessment, research and data analysis for the Miami-Dade School District.

“To me, it’s a very simplistic methodology that doesn’t tell, in our opinion in a statistically defensible way, as to how charter school kids really perform,” Feild said

Cherry-picking is clear in this end zone dance over these results from Hispanic students.

The largest gaps shown in the study are for the Hispanic population, which showed reading and math gaps as large as 10 percent in some grade levels. For example, almost 71 percent of Hispanic middle school kids in charter schools scored a 3 or better on the reading section of the FCAT, but only about 60 percent of the Hispanic kids in traditional public schools scored as well. The percentage gaps for elementary school and high school are not as great, according to the study.

In math, about 10 percent more Hispanic middle school and high school students in charter schools scored 3 or better than did Hispanic kids of the same age in traditional schools

FCAT again. The exclusion of demographic breakdowns of the Hispanic subgroup can be picked up by a high school stats student. Scott and Robinson just want their press release to stand unchallenged. They don’t want to be asked about the kids who have IEPs or get free and/or reduced meals – kids many of the charters they surveyed don’t serve. Nor do the two want you to know that only 40 percent of charter schools were considered in their skimpy aggregate as many schools are too small to be considered statistically significant.

Such  a transparently misleading attempt to make charter schools look good borders on the unethical. Scott and Robinson must be desperate. They’ve both staked their education policy bonefides on charter school success.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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