Charter schools outperform district schools, Florida Education department says

The information comes from an annual state report that only recently started getting publicized.
In this 2016 photo, students at Kid's Community College charter school in Riverview make their way from recess. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
In this 2016 photo, students at Kid's Community College charter school in Riverview make their way from recess. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published March 25, 2019|Updated March 25, 2019

Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran is touting a newly released annual charter school performance report as proof the option to district-operated schools are a success.

Among the details, the report showed students enrolled in charter schools demonstrated higher rates of grade level performance than their traditional school peers in In 63 of 77 comparison points, and a higher percentage of charter schools earned A’s in state grading (47 percent) than district schools (28 percent).

“There is simply no denying that choice works, particularly for minority and low-income students," Corcoran, a strong advocate for charter school expansion, said in a press statement touting the results.

“These results represent hundreds of thousands of Florida families who were empowered to make the best education decisions for their children and are reaping the benefits,” he continued. "Gov. DeSantis has made bold choice-related proposals leading into the 2019 Legislative Session, and this report provides further evidence that they are right for Florida.”

The Department of Education has issued this report each year since 2008. It generated very little attention until recently, when state leaders began highlighting the data in press releases. The trends have remained fairly steady over that time frame, from the slightly better performance on state tests among charter schools, to the higher percentage of Hispanic children in them.

In 2017, the Miami Herald took a closer look at some of the statistics, and found a couple of explanations.

One that often crops up in such discussions is the notion that children whose families make an active education choice, including to go to charter schools, are more involved in the schooling and would tend toward encouraging better outcomes. Another is that charters’ demographics don’t match up with the district schools, which tend to have higher percentages of low-income and disabled students.

Hialeah lawmaker Manny Diaz, now chairman of the Senate Education Committee, told the Herald at the time that such comparisons, though, miss the bigger picture: Choices are individual, and what’s good for one child might not be best for the next.

And for those who choose charters, they seem to be working.