NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Success Doesn't Satisfy Edison School Opponents

March 13, 2001

When Edison Schools took over a failing public elementary school in San Francisco in 1998, it promised to turn the school around. Having done so, the school board now wants to kick out the for-profit school management company.

The enrollment at the Edison Charter Academy has risen by nearly 50 percent, students have new computers, and residents say the school is a safer, more welcome neighbor. Moreover, in nearly all grades, standardized test scores rose significantly -- more than doubling the proportion of students scoring in the top half nationally on math and reading tests, while the percentage in the lowest ranks has been cut by a third.

  • When students who were fifth graders last year took the Stanford Achievement Test in reading, 29 percent scored in the top half of students nationally, and 48 percent scored in the bottom fourth.
  • Two years earlier, just before Edison took control of the school, the same group of students took the test as third graders, with only 8 percent finishing in the top half nationally and 73 percent scoring in the bottom fourth.
  • Edison's test score gains have exceeded those of most of the other lowest-performing schools in San Francisco.

But the San Francisco Board of Education is now dominated by Edison opponents who want to revoke its contract, which runs through 2003. Although some Edison opponents claimed the school forced poorly performing students to go to other schools, there is no hard evidence. Observers say the real reason for the move to oust Edison is opposition to private, for-profit management.

Source: Edward Wyatt, "Higher Scores Aren't Cure-All, School Run for Profit Learns, New York Times, March 13, 2001.


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