- Associated Press - Thursday, January 29, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City charter schools show lower rates of student attrition than traditional public schools but serve fewer students with special needs, according to a report released Thursday by a nonpartisan watchdog agency.

Also on Thursday, the United Federation of Teachers released a report that found that high-needs students including those living in homeless shelters and those who don’t speak English are underrepresented at the city’s charter schools.

“In school after school, district after district, many charters do not enroll appropriate numbers of English language learners, the poorest and highest-need special ed pupils, and homeless children,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.

Supporters and critics of charter schools are trying to sway state legislators who will decide whether to go along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and increase the cap on charters in New York by 100.

Charter school backers said Thursday that the Independent Budget Office report shows that critics who accuse charters of inflating their test scores by forcing low-performing students out are wrong.

“Down goes another baseless allegation against charter school educators and their students,” said Kyle Rosengrans, CEO of the Northeast Charter Schools Network. “In the face of this data, the unions and their sympathizers should apologize for years’ worth of smears on the hard work of charter school educators and their students.”

Eva Moskowitz, founder of the Success Academy chain of charters, said the IBO report “confirms what I’ve always known: Our student retention rates are better than the city’s.”

The IBO report tracked 3,000 charter school students and 7,200 students at nearby traditional public schools who entered kindergarten in September 2008.

It found that 64 percent of the charter school students were at the same school four years after starting kindergarten, compared with 56 percent at traditional public schools.

A total of 12.7 percent of the kindergartners in traditional public schools had some kind of disability requiring special services, compared with 8.9 percent at charter schools.

The UFT report compared student populations at charters and traditional public schools and found that charter school students are a less challenging group.

According to the report, for example, 9.5 percent of students at the Harlem Success Academy 2 charter school are in temporary housing - but that number is 26.7 percent at the district school that shares the same building with the Harlem Success 2.

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