New Data Shows Jersey City Charter Schools Slightly Outperforming District Schools on Standardized Tests

Comparative data released today by the state Department of Education (DOE) shows that on the whole, Jersey City’s charter schools are slightly outperforming the traditional public schools in the district on standardized tests required of all children in grades 3 through 8. However, the data released by the DOE also shows the city’s district high schools outperforming the charter schools on the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA), which is required of all 11th graders.

When taken together, the city’s charter schools scored a 56.6 on the math portions of the 2010 New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJASK) tests for grades 3 through 8, a few points higher than the district, which came in at 53.5. On the language arts side, Jersey City’s charters scored a 50.1, compared to the district’s 46.2. Both sets of scores were considerably lower than the statewide averages of 66.6 (math) and 73.1 (language arts).

Fewer Jersey City charters had any data for the high school test, since many are relatively new schools and only add one grade higher each year. Only University Academy and CREATE Charter School, which the state closed last summer in part due to low test scores, have 2010 HSPA test scores to measure, and together the scores fell much lower than the district scores — 13 points lower in math and 5.3 points lower in language arts.

“I think there is good news here,” says Learning Community Charter School director of development Shelley Skinner, a prominent local charter advocate. “I hate the ‘us versus them’ way of looking at student achievement. But after looking at today’s report I was really very proud of some of our colleagues who are doing heroes work in their schools with scarce resources.”

The Christie administration is touting the data as an affirmation of the need for Gov. Christie’s plans to “grow the number of high-quality charter schools, expand choice for children in failing schools, and reform New Jersey’s charter law to attract high-quality operators to the state.”

The data release comes as the Christie administration prepares to revisit the funding formula for charters next month. In advance of that review, local charter advocates have been pushing the state to revise the formula to ensure that all of Jersey City’s charters get the full funding they are supposed to receive; currently, many of the schools receive much less.

The state’s acting education commissioner Chris Cerf says the data proves charter schools are getting “real results” for students.

“High-quality charters in New Jersey are shining examples of why we can no longer accept that zip code equals destiny,” Cerf says in a statement. “It’s critical that we act immediately to strengthen and expand charter schools in the state by implementing Governor Christie’s education reforms.”

For school-by-school results for each test, check out the full data set here. We’ve also compiled the Jersey City averages below:

MATH

NJASK3
Charters: 65.5
District: 64.3
State: 78.1

NJASK4
Charters: 59.9
District: 61.7
State: 77.0

NJASK5
Charters: 56.3
District: 66.1
State: 78.8

NJASK6
Charters: 52.3
District: 47.5
State: 71.8

NJASK7
Charters: 50.5
District: 40.4
State: 64.3

NJASK8
Charters: 55.3
District: 41.1
State: 68.5

All NJASK tests together
Charters: 56.6
District: 53.5
State: 73.1

HSPA
Charters: 37.9
District: 50.9
State: 74.1

ENGLISH

NJASK3
Charters: 39.5
District: 43.3
State: 59.7

NJASK4
Charters: 46.5
District: 35.1
State: 59.6

NJASK5
Charters: 42.4
District: 41.9
State: 63

NJASK6
Charters: 44.1
District: 43.3
State: 65.3

NJASK7
Charters: 58.7
District: 51.8
State: 69.2

NJASK8
Charters: 69.6
District: 61.5
State: 82.5

All NJASK tests together
Charters: 50.1
District: 46.2
State: 66.6

HSPA
Charters: 64
District: 69.3
State: 87.1

Jon Whiten

co-founded the Jersey City Independent. He is currently the Deputy Director of New Jersey Policy Perspective.