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Texas Charter School Waitlist Numbers Fluctuate

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A poll conducted by the Associated Press found that the number of Texas students on charter schools' waitlists is thousands fewer than the estimate from the Texas Charter Schools Association, due in part to varied polling techniques and duplications.

A Texas Charter Schools Association survey conducted between August and September of last year found nearly 102,000 students on waiting lists for charter schools across the state. (See an analysis of the survey by PolitiFact Texas here.)

But the AP found that out of eight of the ten charter operators surveyed by the Texas Charter Schools Association, which made up 87,000 of the 101,000 students on the waitlists, only 79,000 students are currently on the waitlist—a difference of about 8,000 students.

Part of that discrepancy could have to do with the timing of the poll, the AP. The AP survey was done in April, and since some charter schools wipe their waitlists and start over every January, the charter schools' waitlists might not be as long compared to a survey done later in the year. In addition, some larger charter operators have implemented new waitlist standards yielding more accurate numbers, said the article.

In addition, neither of the polls can account for families who apply to be on the waitlists of multiple charter schools, allowing those families to be counted multiple times. (Because of privacy laws, the names on the waitlists are confidential, making it impossible to cross-reference the lists and remove duplicate names.)

The fluctuation in the number of students waiting to get into charters comes as Texas lawmakers debate whether to allow an expansion of charter schools through legislation sponsored by Sen. Dan Patrick, a Republican. Patrick's bill has passed the Senate but faces a tough road in the House, according to the Houston Chronice, where charter school legislation has died in the last two legislative sessions.

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