Donna Siminski is Director of Policy and Advocacy for the New Jersey Charter School Association with a focus on the policy issues impacting the the state’s charter schools. Donna works with members, charter families, and charter school professionals to advocate for high-quality charter schools and the children they serve.
On Friday, the New Jersey Department of Education released PARCC results for the 2017-18 school year. For the first time, Newark charter students in grades 3-8 eliminated the achievement gap and outperformed the state average in both English language arts (ELA) and mathematics on PARCC. Nearly 20,000 students attend public charter schools in Newark. 82% of Newark charter students are Black, 16% are Hispanic, and 83% are economically disadvantaged.
“In 2015, Stanford University released an independent study showing that Newark had the second highest performing charter sector in the nation,” said Harry Lee, Interim President, New Jersey Charter Schools Association. “The 2018 PARCC results continue to prove that Newark charters are delivering breakthrough results for students in the city. Parents are choosing charter schools because of the opportunities and results they are creating for students. During the Commissioner’s review of charter schools in New Jersey, these incredible results should be celebrated and looked at as a model for what other urban schools across the state can achieve for their families.”
“Eliminating the achievement gap is a persistent obstacle for schools throughout the nation,” added Lee. “Newark charters show what is possible in public education. By focusing on what really matters in education – ensuring every child has a great teacher and challenging students with rigorous standards and curriculum – we can create a brighter future for all of our children.”
Charter Schools Continue to Outperform State Averages
While public schools across the state showed improvements on statewide assessments, Black, Hispanic, and low-income charter school students continued to outperform their statewide peers on PARCC. In 2018, Black charter students outperformed their statewide peers by more than 12% points in ELA and math; Hispanic charter students outperformed their statewide peers by 7% points in ELA and 6% points in math; Economically disadvantaged charter students outperformed their statewide peers by more than 10% points in ELA and 9% points in math.
Lee remarked, “2018 PARCC results prove that charter schools are providing high-quality public school choices across 40 cities throughout New Jersey. In our urban communities, tens of thousands of families are choosing charter schools because they are providing life-changing educational options that simply didn’t exist before the first charter schools opened in these communities more than 20 years ago. High- performing public charter schools must be given the opportunity to add seats and serve the 35,000 students and families on charter school wait lists.”
Additionally, despite predominantly serving students in our most economically challenged communities, charter schools are closing in on the achievement gap versus the rest of the state and outperforming their home districts. In 2018, charter students outgained the state on PARCC from 2017 to 2018 in elementary, middle, and high school. Charter high school students made the greatest gains by growing 6.0% points in ELA and 4.2% points in math compared to 3.1% points in ELA and 2.1% points in math for the State in high school.