(Dover, DE.) The State Board of Education, along with the Department of Education, contracted with the Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University in 2003 to conduct a multi-year evaluation of Delaware’s charter school program. Dr. Gary Miron is the Chief of Staff of the Center and is the principal researcher on this project. Year three of the report is being released today.The report continues its focus on charter school missions, analyses of student performance, teacher satisfaction and qualifications and policy issues that are relevant to charter school oversight, with the addition this year of comparisons of revenues and expenditures between traditional public schools and charter schools.
Based on the findings in year 3, the report concluded that charter school reform is being implemented successfully in Delaware. It noted the progress over time in modifying and improving regulations and oversight. It further concluded that the area of finances is a difficult one to assess because of the differences in teacher qualification, types of students served and charter school autonomy for budgeting funds. It was noted that funds for capital costs continue to be an issue for charter schools since they have to rely on operational dollars to provide facilities. Dr. Miron stated that in the aggregate, charter schools do not look much different from the traditional public schools in terms of student makeup. However, when you begin to look at student makeup school by school, you find substantial differences. Some charter schools serve primarily minority students and other serve primarily white students. Most charter schools also serve few students with disabilities or English language learners. In terms of student performance on the Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP), the study concluded that based on the analysis, charter schools performed less well at grades 3 and 5 than traditional public schools. There was improvement over time at grade 8 and by grade 10, charter school students performed above expected levels.
Mrs. Jean Allen, President of the State Board of Education, noted that the reports have been helpful in giving an outside look to a new and complex area of school governance. “We have seen the charter school reform begin to mature and we have modified our practices as a result. The Board believes that strict oversight in the initial application stages and first years of charter school operations is essential.” Echoing Mrs. Allen’s remarks, Secretary of Education Valerie A. Woodruff stated “The charter school movement has been an important public education policy initiative in Delaware. Taking stock of its strengths and challenges after a decade of implementation is critical.”Dr. Miron can also be contacted by phone at (269) 387-5895 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
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