Yet there is an additional question worth examining: Are there differences in how effectively traditional schools and public charter schools—both serving low-income students—are responding to COVID-19 school closures?

So let’s take another look at Trenton City Public Schools, still displaying a banner on its homepage that says,

“The district has exhausted all of the printed packets [intended for home instruction]; the district is closed and our vendors have limited resources in printing out additional packets. Therefore, no additional copies are available until further notice.”

As I noted earlier in the week, if a Trenton district student has a laptop and access to the internet, he or she will get up to four hours of online instruction with no assured teacher contact. Without internet access and a device, he or she will get nothing.

Yet 22% of Trenton students attend public charter schools, with many more on waitlists.

How do online instructional strategies compare?

Let’s take a look at Foundation Academy, Trenton’s largest charter school that currently enrolls 1,042 students.

To do a fair comparison we need to check the demographics.

According to the Department of Education’s School Performance Reports, 83% of Foundation Academy students are economically-disadvantaged, 52% are Black, and 46% are Hispanic. At Trenton Central High School 48% of students are economically-disadvantaged (this seems low to me but that’s what the DOE says),

44% of students are Black, and 55% are Hispanic. At Foundation Academy 11% of students are eligible for special education services and it’s 16.8% at Trenton High.

How about student achievement?

The most recently reported SAT scores at Trenton High are 421 in reading and 401 in math. At Foundation they’re 503 in reading and 516 in math.

The graduation rate at Trenton High (using the five-years-to-finish-high-school number) is 87%; at Foundation Academy it’s 100%. Sixteen months after

graduation 51% of Trenton High students are enrolled in two or four-year colleges; 83% are enrolled at Foundation Academy.


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