More to squabble about in the great debate over whether charter schools are just failing government schools by another name, or bold experiments in education reform:
In 2003, fourth graders in traditional public schools scored an average of 4.2 points better in reading than comparable students in charter schools on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, often called the nation's report card. Students in traditional schools scored an average of 4.7 points better in math than comparable students in charter schools.
As usual, methodology is being questioned–how to measure poverty is the perennially irresolvable Pepsi v. Coke debate of ideological academics. And charter school advocates say their kids are too often the most desperate, lagging kids of the education system, so there is no comparable group for gauge their progress against.
An interesting side note: The federal commissioner of education statistics, Mark S. Schneider, doesn't think research into education statistics is the proper role for the federal government:
This is one of the most contentious issues with regard to the charter school research debate," Mr. Schneider said. He said the department should not put its stamp on research comparing public and charter schools but should leave individual researchers to use the data to compete in the "marketplace of ideas."