GRE Reading Comprehension
It has frequently been argued that freeing schools from the rigid rules, regulations, and statutes that have traditionally fettered them would have a revolutionary effect on academic achievement. For instance, it has been suggested that schools embodying this idea could develop more effective teaching methods that could then be replicated in other schools. Charter schools—public schools that operate under a contract, or "charter"—were given just such an opportunity beginning in 1991, when Minnesota passed the first charter school law. At that time, many critics warned of deleterious rather than beneficial effects that such freewheeling schools could have on the academic achievement of students. Thus, while public opinion differed concerning the social desirability of charter schools, most agreed that there would be a pronounced effect.
Surprisingly, educators who study educational reform now seriously question the degree to which charter schools have made an impact. They conclude that freedom from many of the policies and regulations affecting traditional public schools and the concomitant control over decisions that guide the day-to-day affairs of the school have not resulted in equally dramatic changes in students' academic performance. In some states, charter schools are less likely to meet state performance standards than tradi-tional public schools. It is, however, impossible to know whether this difference is due to the performance of the schools, the prior achievement of the students, or some other factor.
Metrics for educational accountability have changed considerably in the past decade, moving increasingly to performance as measured by state mandated tests of individual student achievement. Fundamentally, however, the challenging conditions under which schools operate, be they traditional or charter, have changed little: the struggle for resources, low pay for teachers, accountability to multiple stakeholders, and the difficulty of meeting the educational requirements of children with special needs all persist.
Which of the following statements best summarizes the main point of the passage?
- A Charter schools, despite their merits, fail to overcome the long-standing problems in public education.
- B Recent studies have shown that charter schools have had a revolutionary effect on student achievement.
- C Freeing schools from some of the restrictions that govern them has caused a change in education since 1991.
- D Charter schools have created a whole new way of educating children that did not previously exist.
- E Assessments of charter schools' performance have reinforced the position that rigid rules and regulations are stifling academic achievement.
Correct Answer: A