Parents, teachers, and school administrators in Dayton are no doubt confused over the state report card results and the paradoxical message they convey. While Performance Index scores are rising--along with some charters' and Dayton Public's ratings--the number of area schools meeting Average Yearly Progress (AYP) targets is declining.

Fortunately, reading and math scores offer two clear indicators of student achievement in the Gem City.

Overall, Dayton's public school children-both district and charter-made significant gains in reading and mathematics as measured by the state's 2004-05 and 2005-06 achievement tests. Over the course of one year, scores for both district and charter sixth and eighth grade students rose, while third grade reading scores declined slightly for students in both types of schools (see Graph I). Fourth grade reading scores rose for Dayton's charter students but declined slightly for district fourth graders.Reading Achievement--Dayton 04-05 to 05-06 

In math, charter school students showed marked improvement from 2004-05 to 2005-06, posting significant gains in third, fourth, sixth, and eighth grades. District students scored higher in third, fourth, and eighth grades, while sixth grade results showed a slight decline from the previous year (see Graph II).

Math Achievement--Dayton 04-05 to 05-06 

Charter school students scored particularly well in both reading and mathematics. Fourth graders in 2005-06 scored 8 percentage points higher in reading and 21 percentage points higher in math than the class before them. Last year's sixth graders scored 27 percentage points higher in both reading and math than sixth graders in 2004-05. And the charter eighth graders of 2005-06 surpassed their predecessors by 5 percentage points in reading and 15 percentage points in math.

These are truly impressive gains, driven in large measure by students in a handful of charter schools: The Richard Allen Academies, Edison's Dayton Academy, the National Heritage Academies' Pathway School of Discovery, the World of Wonder School, and East End Community School. These charter schools, along with some district high performers, are showing the community of Dayton that its children can perform at high levels if they are given access to good schools and quality instruction.

It's been a long, hard road for all of Dayton's public schools--district and charter alike--but charter and district educators' focus on providing a high quality education for their students is beginning to show measurable results. There's still much work to be done, and too many schools are still not delivering the necessary results. But these reading and math gains indicate that school choice--and school improvement efforts--are paying off for Dayton's children.

"Charter Schools Show Uneven Improvement," by Scott Elliott, The Dayton Daily News, August 21, 2006.

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