Availability of Charter Data Hit

Article excerpt

Even as enrollment in the District's charter schools has increased rapidly, there is not enough information available about these schools for parents to make an informed choice, according to a report released by a local nonprofit group Sunday.

The report, titled "Charter Schools in the District of Columbia: Improving Systems for Accountability, Autonomy and Competition," is based on a two-year study by the D.C. chapter of the Appleseed Center, an independent group that deals with issues of public interest and professes to take a neutral stance on charter schools.

The District currently fails to provide adequate and comparable information about both charter and traditional public schools, and any information that is available is not detailed enough to permit "reasonable judgments" is not readily available to parents and is not consistent enough to enable comparisons between different types of schools, according to the report.

Joshua Wyner, executive director of the Appleseed Center, said the deficiencies were seen in several areas including curriculum information, student-absentee rate, teacher qualifications and neighborhood safety. "All these things tell how stable a school is," he said.

Charter schools were first authorized in the District in 1996, and there are currently 39 such schools in the city. As many as one out of every eight children in the District now attends charter schools, Mr. Wyner said.

The need for information is particularly important "because with charter schools the dollar follows the child. So every time parents make a decision to send their children to a charter school, they are making public policy," he said. …