To the Editor:
Based on the spring results of the California Smarter Balanced assessments, the Los Angeles Unified School District recently announced that 55 percent of the district’s magnet students met or exceeded state standards in English/language arts, compared with 39 percent in charters, 33 percent in the LAUSD overall, and 44 percent in traditional schools statewide. The breakdown of math results followed a similar pattern.
The results represent the online scores of the state’s 3rd through 8th graders, as well as 11th graders, from 48,000 charters and 37,000 magnet schools. The numbers paint a clear picture: Students from LAUSD magnet schools are not only being prepared effectively for college and future careers, they are also outperforming their peers in other schools by significant margins throughout the state, at every grade level.
The scores were released just as the influential Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation floated the idea to provide the LAUSD with a $490 million incentive to double the number of charter schools in the district. The timing was ironic.
Magnet schools explicitly promote school integration and diversity as a core mission. Unlike charters, magnet schools do not operate autonomously, outside the public school system, and are never run by for-profit organizations. This provides a level of direct accountability to decisionmakers and taxpayers. Most magnet schools also adhere to collective bargaining agreements made with educators.
Decisionmakers should question the Broad Foundation’s proposal and take a close look at the test-result evidence that clearly shows that magnet programs are thriving and outperforming charter schools.
In fact, in almost every student classification, including female, male, African-American, Asian, and Latino, magnet school students outshine their peers in math and English/language arts. The same is true for economically disadvantaged students and those with learning disabilities. What is also striking is that the LAUSD’s magnet schools had far fewer students falling into low-performance categories.
All this information should lead to one obvious conclusion: We need to pay closer attention to magnet schools and focus more energy and resources toward replicating these models of educational excellence. The numbers tell a powerful story that should not be ignored.
Magnet Schools of America
A version of this article appeared in the January 06, 2016 edition of Education Week as Follow the Numbers: Magnet Schools Outperform Charters