Education Commissioner Cerf Refines the Rules for Charters

BY  |  Monday, Sep 12, 2011 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (2)

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With the administration expected to announce a new class of charters in the coming weeks, acting education commissioner Chris Cerf has detailed steps that are intended to improve the oversight of new and existing schools.

But questions remain about the capacity of the state to meet its promises. And the announcement stops short of some of the measures that Democratic legislators have asked for to amp up accountability even more.

Cerf released a letter sent to all charter school heads on Friday. It starts with praise for the opportunities and education that the experimental schools have provided students.

But it continues in a more critical tone:

“Not all charter schools are serving students at the levels they deserve,” Cerf wrote, mentioning that the state closed two charters last year. “At the department, we take the exchange of autonomy for accountability very seriously.”

Cerf’s push is a mix of some new requirements and what he said were clarifying and focusing of what’s expected of charters. In the letter and a separate press call, he said there would be new emphasis on student performance, namely on state tests, and on student access.

Schools previously held to reporting overall scores, for instance, will see them analyzed against their host districts’ and other schools with comparable student populations.

Read about the new requirements on NJSpotlight.


  1. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  September 12, 2011 @ 9:25 am

    “Schools previously held to reporting overall scores, for instance, will see them analyzed against their host districts’ and other schools with comparable student populations.”

    That’s a good thing. Please compare charter performance with the public schools, I’d love to see that report.

  2. POSTED BY willjames  |  September 12, 2011 @ 10:28 am

    That report already exists. It was released in 2009 by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) out of Stanford University. Here’s a link to the report:

    Here’s the key finding, from its executive summary:

    “The study reveals that a decent fraction of charter schools, 17 percent, provide superior education opportunities for their students. Nearly half of the charter schools nationwide have results that are no different from the local public school options and over a third, 37 percent, deliver learning results that are significantly worse than their student would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools.”

    A second-level finding is quite interesting. The report points out that a statistically-significant number of students in poverty and “English Language Learners” do better in charter schools than their public-school peers, but that “Students not in poverty and students who are not English language learners on average do notably worse than the same students who remain in the traditional public school system.”  

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