I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
N.M. charter schools trail traditional public schools, study says
Only six of New Mexico’s 73 charter schools outperformed their public school counterparts on standardized test scores, a new study shows. The study also found that New Mexico was one of six states where charter school students’ academic gains were lower on average than those of their public school counterparts.
The report, released last week by Stanford University researchers, is likely to stir debate on the accomplishments of charter schools in New Mexico.
New Mexico Public Education Department Sec. Veronica Garcia on Monday called the report’s findings helpful but counseled against a knee-jerk reaction.
“It’s a good wake up call for charters that the public expects their children to learn,” Garcia said.
That said, she added, “I think the charter schools are here to stay. They are a positive alternative to vouchers. And they provide choice.”
Lisa Grover of the New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools (NMCCS) could not be reached for comment.
According to the NMCCS Web site, a charter school is defined as follows:
A charter school is a tuition-free public school established by a contract with an authorizer, which in New Mexico is either a local school district or the Public Education Commission, to provide a choice in public education for parents, students and educators.
Garcia acknowledged that the new report, which compared charter school and traditional public school students’ standardized test scores in 16 states, likely would spark a conversation that could lead to policy changes.
“A lot of good could come of (the study),” she said.
Critics of charter schools often charge that they siphon students and resources from traditional public schools, while supporters view them as necessary alternatives to failing schools and, in some cases, as a more palatable solution than voucher programs.
Meanwhile, debate has continued about how well charter schools perform compared to non-charter public schools. One study published in 2007 by the nonprofit research group, Quinto Sol, found that students who were doing poorly at traditional public schools continued to do poorly at charter schools. Another study commissioned by the New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools, however, showed that compared to all New Mexico school districts, charters had higher rates of proficiency in both math and reading in grades 4-7, and lower rates of proficiency in grades 3, 8-9 and 11.
Garcia said New Mexico partnered with Stanford researchers because the state wanted an outside view on how the state’s charter schools were working.
Calling the report an excellent tool, Garcia went to say that it didn’t capture a full picture of what success or failure can look like at a charter school.
The report measured performance only by standardized test scores, she said.
Attendance rates at each charter school, the curriculum and the amount of violence teachers and students face would have given a much more complex and accurate picture, she said.
“Are there a lot of fights; not many fights,” Garcia said of potential violence, or lack of it, at schools.
Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, Ohio and Texas saw similar results to those in New Mexico, according to the study.
Elsewhere, charter school students posted better results. Students at charter schools in Arkansas, Colorado (Denver), Illinois (Chicago), Louisiana and Missouri significantly outperformed their non-charter public school counterparts, the study found.
Charter school students in five other states posted mixed results.
Garcia’s comments came on the same day as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which was meeting in the nation’s capital, that weak institutions could harm the movement’s spread.
Across the nation more than 4,700 charter schools enroll over 1.4 million children in 40 states and the District of Columbia, and the ranks of charters grow by hundreds each year, according to the Stanford report.
When standardized test scores area considered, New Mexico’s results were mixed at best, the report shows.
While students at six New Mexico charter schools outperformed their public school counterparts, students at 27 other charter schools achieved the same level of performance; another 12 charters posted mixed results; and 10 charter schools posted lower academic gains, the study found.
Here is a list of all New Mexico’s charter schools and how they did in the Stanford Report. The information is provided by the state Public Education Department:
Charter schools academically outperforming their traditional public schools counterparts
Sidney Gutierrez Middle School (Roswell)
Southwest Primary Learning Center (Albuquerque)
Albuquerque Institute of Math & Science (Albuquerque)
La Academia Dolores Huerta (Las Cruces)
Turquoise Trail Charter School (Santa Fe)
Twenty-First Century Charter School (Albuquerque)
Charter schools achieving at the same level of academic performance as traditional public school counterparts
Aldo Leopold Charter School (Silver City)
Alma d’ Arte Charter High School (Las Cruces)
Amistad Charter (Clayton) (Closed)
Bridge Academy (Las Vegas) (Closed)
Cesar Chavez Community School (Albuquerque)
Charter School 37 (Santa Fe) (Tierra Encantada)
Creative Ed. Preparatory Institute #1 (Albuquerque)
Creative Ed. Preparatory Institute #2 (Albuquerque)
Digital Arts & Technology Academy (Albuquerque)
East Mountain High School (Albuquerque)
Horizon Academy West (Albuquerque)
La Resolana Leadership Academy (Albuquerque)
Lacy Simms Middle School (Alamogordo) (Closed)
Montessori Elementary School (Albuquerque)
Montessori of the Rio Grande (Albuquerque)
Moreno Valley High School (Albuquerque)
North Albuquerque Co-op Community (Albuquerque)
Nuestros Valores Charter School (Albuquerque)
Ralph J. Bunche Academy (Albuquerque)
Red River Valley Charter School (Questa)
Rio Gallinas School (West Las Vegas)
Robert F. Kennedy Charter School (Albuquerque)
Charter schools with mixed results of student performance
Academia de Lengua y Cultura (Albuquerque)
Amy Biel Charter High School (Albuquerque)
Cottonwood Valley Charter School (Socorro)
Christine Duncan Community School (Albuquerque)
El Camino Real Academy (Albuquerque)
Española Military Academy (Española)
La Luz del Monte Learning Center (Albuquerque)
Native American Community Academy (Albuquerque)
Southwest Secondary Learning Center (Albuquerque)
Public Academy for Performing Arts (Albuquerque)
The Learning Community School (Albuquerque)
Walatowa Charter High School (Jemez Valley)
Charter schools performing lower than traditional public schools
Academy for Technology and the Classics (Albuquerque)
Deming Cesar Chavez Charter School (Deming)
Horizon Academy Prep High School (Albuquerque)
Jefferson Montessori Academy (Carlsbad)
La Academia de Esperanza (Albuquerque)
Los Puentes Charter School (Albuquerque)
Monte del Sol Charter School (Santa Fe)
Mosaic Academy Charter (Aztec)
North Valley Academy (Albuquerque)
Village Academy (Bernalillo)