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Report: Kentucky students falling behind due to lack of charter schools

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(The Center Square) – Proponents for charter schools in Kentucky say national data shows the need for such schools in the state.

The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions released a study called “Kentucky Needs Charter Schools Now More Than Ever.” The report, authored by BIPPS Education Analyst Richard G. Innes, studied data from last year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The report includes scores for white and Black students for both charter schools and non-charter schools. It also shows scores for Florida and Georgia, along with scores for Kentucky and the entire country.

Not only did the NAEP data show Black fourth-graders in charter schools fared better than Black students from Kentucky, but the data also showed Black fourth-graders in Florida and Georgia charter schools performed at the same levels as white Kentucky students in traditional public schools.

In a statement, Innes said the data shows Kentucky students are likely to fall behind their peers in other states, where school choice is available.

“Overall, these findings and more in the report support a general picture that students fortunate enough to get into public charter schools are showing improved performance compared to students who don’t get this parent choice option,” he said.

Kentucky is one of five states that does not have charter school options available for families. State legislators in Frankfort passed a charter school in 2017 when Republicans seized majorities in both chambers. However, that law did not create a long-term funding mechanism for such schools.

Lawmakers passed House Bill 9 last year to establish funding for charters. However, that law is being challenged in state courts.

Innes, in the report, chided “turf-protecting adults” for preventing Kentucky families from having choices for their children’s education.

“States with top-performing charter school systems are starting to show some really significant achievements on the National Assessment of Educational Progress… (I)n some cases, the overall national average performances in charter schools now surpass performances for similar student groups in the nation’s traditional public school systems. Thus, while Kentucky continues to dither about even having charter schools, charter school students in some other states are starting to reap real benefits from their schools of choice,” Innes wrote.

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