NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Trying to Rate Edison Schools

July 16, 2002

At least one thing can be said for Edison Schools, the private company that contracts to manage failing public schools: parents love them. Edison can also cite student's test scores as proof it is doing a better job at educating. Detractors, however, have become proficient at disputing those data.

  • Nearly 90 percent of parents with children in Edison-run schools gave their school an A or B on a survey conducted for the company last year by Harris Interactive.
  • By comparison, 68 percent of public school parents gave their schools the same high marks, according to another survey conducted by the Gallup Organization.
  • Edison has also calculated that more than 80 percent of its schools have improved on standardized tests.
  • Edison figures that the average gains at those schools are larger than those in schools in dozens of the nation's largest districts.

In another testing category -- norm-referenced tests -- Edison reported it students' scores increased by 4.7 percentage points every year compared to 23 large school districts, of which only 5 had increases of more than 2 percentage points. Critics complained Edison used test scores from different companies, but Edison countered that procedure was no different from calculating a student's grade point average by combining scores from different teachers who might not agree what constitutes an A, B or C.

Some 75,000 students attend Edison schools in 22 states.

Source: Jacques Steinberg and Diana B. Henriques, "Complex Calculations on Academics," New York Times, July 16, 2002.


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