Jay Mathews's June 23 Metro article comparing second-grade classes at a D.C. charter school and a regular D.C. school is puzzling. In "Students Make Similar Strides at 2 Schools," Mr. Mathews reports that scores at the charter school made a 16-percentile rise in math and a 2-percentile rise in reading, while scores at the regular school rose 19 percentiles in each. That doesn't look like "similar strides": It looks more as though the second-grade class at the regular school made an improvement at least twice as great as that of its counterpart at the charter school.
Further, Mr. Mathews says that local educators believe test data indicate "that fears of charter schools gutting the regular public school system are overblown." I would draw the opposite conclusion from the figures on where each class stood at the beginning of the year. The students at the regular school began the year at the 28th percentile in math and the 36th percentile in reading. If anything, these numbers suggest that the charter school is indeed creaming off the top.
Both schools are to be congratulated. It seems, though, that an extra round of applause should go to the regular D.C. school.