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September 16, 2003

Charter schools show 'dramatic' achievement, a new report shows

New York's 55 charter schools are equaling or surpassing traditional schools on state tests with little cost to school districts, according to a new draft report by the state Education Department.

The report, prepared for the Governor and Legislature, reports the educational effectiveness of charter schools in New York.

"For charter schools that have been in operation two or more years and have administered the State exams each year, dramatic increases in student achievement can be seen over time, equaling or surpassing that seen in the districts of location," the report said.

The report also countered critics' claims that charter schools would drain funds from school districts by finding that the effect on districts budgets was "negligible."

"Most school districts report little financial and/or programmatic impact from having students attend charter schools," the report said.

In addition, the report found that charter schools are serving predominantly minority students in poorer, urban areas.

Charter schools are public schools that operate independently of school-district bureaucracies. In exchange for this greater flexibility, they are held to a higher level of accountability. Charter schools operate under five-year licenses granted by SUNY and the state Board of Regents.

The Business Council has long supported charter schools because they provide children and families with more options, as well as competition and incentives for public school improvement.