JEFF MEADORS: With charter school performance, the numbers don't lie

See charter.

See charter grow.

See charter outperform.

Hear nothing.

Although largely ignored by media, the annual report of the Georgia Charter Schools and Charter Systems was presented Jan. 15 to the charter committee of the state Board of Education.

Charter schools outperformed non-charter schools in fiscal year 2013 on both reading and math Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and on ELA and math End of Course Tests.

Nationally all but eight states have a charter school law. All but 36 of Georgia’s 180 school districts had students enrolled in a charter school in fiscal year 2013. Of the 2.3 million students enrolled in charter schools nationally 225,259 of them are in Georgia — up from 21,094 in fiscal year 2006. That’s greater growth than when bulls storm Wall Street.

Of systems in Georgia with charters Newton and Houston counties have the smallest charter enrollments with around 1 percent of students enrolled in a charter school. Nearby Morgan and Putnam are charter systems. Greene County’s Union Point STEAM Academy opened this school year as a conversion charter. Coweta Charter Academy and Georgia Connections Academy, a state-wide virtual public school for k-12 students, Georgia Cyber (k-11), and Provost (9-12) changed authorizers from the state board to the State Charter Schools Commission.

Hall, Coweta, Greene, and Mitchell counties have 30 percent or more of their students enrolled in charters. The Early County area is served by Pataula Charter Academy which expanded grade levels in fiscal year 2014, supporting Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Early, and Randolph counties.

Pataula charter students exceeded state averages on CRCT tests for the 2012-2013 school year without retests in reading, ELA, math and science by 3 to 5 percentage points and by 6 percentage points in social studies.

Pataula charter students beat five county averages (Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Early, and Randolph) of their home schools in all five subjects with double-digit percentage increases in reading, math, science and social sciences and came within 1 percentage point of doing so in ELA. Pataula students beat local averages in science and social studies by more than 20 percentage points.

While Georgia’s non-charter student CRCT reading performance remained flat from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2010 at 90.9 percent charter student performance rose from 91.9 percent to 93.2 percent. By fiscal year 2012 charter student CRCT reading performance rose to 95.2 percent and 96.2 percent by fiscal year 2013 consistently outperforming non-charter enrollment.

On 2013 CRCT reading performance charter system schools outpaced all schools (start-up, conversion, non-charter) in percentages of students exceeding expectations at 48 percent with non-charter performance at 43.2 percent. Banks, Coffee, and Haralson counties became charter systems this year.

Georgia’s charter students maintained a fiscal year 2013 CRCT math performance percentage of 87 percent, with non- charter performance at 85.9 percent. More impressive, however, is the improvement over time during the critical CRCT years where lifetime trajectories are formed. From fiscalyear 2009 to fiscal year 2013 CRCT math charter performance increased 8.9 percent while non-charter performance rose 6 percent.

Charter students outpaced non-charter counterparts as well on high school EOCTs.

By the end of 2013-2014 there will be 390 approved charter schools in Georgia. Two characteristics set them apart: autonomy and flexibility.

We will see more charters, but if I stop writing will we hear about their good work?

Columnist Jeff Meadors may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com