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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