Scathing Purple Musings challenged the veracity of the recent FLDOE report which touted test data to claim superiority of charter schools over public schools. As top policy advisor, Matt Ladner tweeted, “Florida charter school students outperforming district school peers,” it’s clear that both of Jeb Bush’s foundations are spreading this around as Gospel.
One of the foundation’s top writers, Mike Thomas wrote the following on the report:
The analysis was based on more than 3 million FCAT scores and end-of-year algebra exams. Also in the report are numbers showing 74 percent of charter schools earned an A or B in the last grading cycle.
The data Thomas is bragging about comes from tests administered during the 2011-2012 school year. The study – and Thomas – leaves out the fact that 31 percent of charter schools did not receive a grade. There’s also a the tricky little issue of the number of charter schools which closed during the year. Twenty-one closed and all but two were open when FCAT 2.0 and the Algebra EOC was administered. Here is the entire list, with district and closure date:
Imagine Charter at North Lauderdale Middle 7/30/12
Paragon Elementary Charter 8/21/12
Pompano Charter Middle School 8/21/12
Eagle Academy Charter School 9/14/12
Parkway Academy 9/18/12
Balere Language Academy 7/18/12
Lawrence Academy Elementary Charter 8/1/12
Community Green 1/15/12
Global Outreach Charter Academy Palm Coast 1/2/13
Heritage Academy 6/8/12
AT Jones Math, Science & Tech Academy 7/30/12
Richard Milburn Academy South 10/5/12
Rio Grande Charter School of Excellence 8/31/12
North Star Charter High School 6/30/12
Lamensa Academy New Generation 6/7/12
Florida International Language Academy 10/17/12
Life Force Arts & Technology 6/15/12
Mavericks South Pinellas Charter School 11/16/12
ACE Charter 7/31/12
Reading Star Academy in Orange City 8/17/12
While the study indicates – though Thomas didn’t – that not all charter schools received grades, it doesn’t make clear if all charter school students were part of the study. In addition, it’s quite clear that all of Florida’s charter school students were not part of the study. Only those who took FCAT 2.0 and the Algebra EOC provide the data which allowed them to claim charter school students were “outperforming district peers.”
And as the study only selected FCAT 2.0 and the Algebra EOC, it’s clear they left other test data off their report for some reason. The Bush foundation never stops plugging NAEP, but it’s not part of the study. Neither were any college entry exams like ACT or the SAT. Neither the FLDOE or the FEE explain why they chose to only use these tests.
It’s called cherry-picking data – something the charter school lackey’s at the FLDOE and the top-dollar hacks at Bush’s foundations do without reservation.