The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report in July, complaining that charter school data is so incomplete that it could not determine whether charter schools are avoiding non-English speaking students. “Specifically, for over one-third of charter schools, the field for reporting the counts of ELLs (English Language Learners) enrolled in ELL programs was left blank,” the report summary said.
The bad charter school data not only undermines the ability of researchers to figure out if charter schools are better than traditional public schools, but it also infects aggregate district-wide and state-wide education data. The GAO recommended that the Department of Education should stop reporting English-language-learner data on the district and state level if the charter school data could not be fixed.
The GAO further recommended that all charter school data be further scrutinized to see if blank data fields are ruining data sets on academic achievement and graduation.
The report, entitled Education Needs to Further Examine Data Collection on English Language Learners in Charter Schools (GAO-13-655R) was released to the public on August 15, 2013.