Edison Reports Strong Achievement Gains

Published June 1, 2004

Students in Edison-run schools are making significant academic progress and parents are very satisfied with the schools, according to the privately held company’s latest annual performance report, released in April.

The report indicates the for-profit firm’s approach to learning is beginning to bridge the racial achievement gap and help schools meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Edison Schools is the nation’s largest private provider of public education. The company manages 130 charter and traditional public schools, provides after-school programs, and conducts management consultation and teacher training. In all, the company serves more than 132,000 public school students in 20 states.

The new report, “The Sixth Annual Report on School Performance,” compares 2002 and 2003 state test scores. Average achievement gains show the majority of Edison Schools–82 percent–are raising student achievement. Edison students gained an average of 6.7 percentage points compared to an average gain of only 3.6 percentage points in comparable non-Edison schools.

Edison’s chief education officer, John Chubb, who authored the report, credited the gains to the growth and maturity of the company, and also to the effect of maturing support measures.

“In the first year a school is managed by Edison it often undergoes a shift in educational culture,” he explained. “It is in the next years that real change and achievement can occur.”

Edison Schools also were more successful than comparable non-Edison schools in reducing the failure rate on state criterion-referenced tests. Edison Schools reduced the rate by 5 percentage points, a rate that is three and five times higher than that of their home districts and states.

In schools designated as “needs improvement” under NCLB, Edison improved student achievement by 5.5 percentage points. That improvement exceeded the gains posted by schools’ home districts and states, which posted gains of 3.5 and 1.9 percentage points respectively.

Edison Schools also posted strong gains in schools serving predominantly black students. At schools with a population at least 90 percent African-American, the average one-year gain was 7.2 percentage points and the average two-year gain was 9.5 percentage points. These gains are similar to the rates of gain across all Edison schools.

“The strong and compelling gains that these Edison students have posted suggest that quality schooling can make a meaningful difference for students from any background,” said Chubb.

“The comparable schools analysis provides a powerful answer to the question of how well Edison partnership schools perform in comparison to similar schools in the districts that we work,” added Chubb. “That answer is clear: Edison schools’ achievement gains consistently exceed those gains at similar schools in the locales where we are working.”

Parental satisfaction in Edison Schools remains strong for the eighth year. According to an independent survey, 85 percent of parents whose children attend Edison Schools rated their schools an A or B. Fifty-one percent gave their school an A.

Teacher satisfaction also is strong in Edison schools. Eighty-seven percent of Edison School teachers gave their career satisfaction levels top grades.

The annual performance report does not include schools that opened in 2002-2003 since there was insufficient data to create a valid trend line. The RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, has confirmed the achievement data as consistent with scores tabulated by the state and test publishers. RAND has been monitoring Edison Schools since 2000 and will issue a final report on student achievement outcomes from 2000-2004 in August.

Krista Kafer is senior policy analyst for education at The Heritage Foundation. Her email address is [email protected].

For more information …

The April 2004 report from Edison Schools, “The Sixth Annual Report on School Performance,” is available online at http://www.edisonschools.com/sixthannualreport.pdf.

A summary is available at http://www.edisonschools.com/design/d23.html.