Friday, June 28, 2013

New Study on Charter School Achievement Finds Improvement

Credo CaptureWith all of the Supreme Court cases coming down this week, I have been slow to post the Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcome's (CREDO) new charter school study, but it should not get lost in the shuffle.  For those who have not followed the debate over the last several years, CREDO has published some of the most comprehensive and influential studies on charter school achievement available.  I will save in-depth analysis for next week.  For now, it suffices to say that CREDO's previous 2009 report painted a relatively poor pictures of charter schools and was fodder for those who oppose them.  I admit that I have placed great weight in the 2009 study's less than flattering results for charter schools.  This new study, however, presents an envolving picture. 

While charters still do not consistently outperform traditional public schools (as some believe), this study indicates that, on the whole, charter schools have shown improvement since 2009, ineffective ones have begun to close, and that a larger number than before are outperforming traditional public schools.  In addition, the study suggest that the popular notion that charters steal all of the top students is probably incorrect as a general principle.  With that said, I will let the report speak for itself.  Here are some of the most important findings:

  • "Charter schools and their feeder schools are educating more disadvantaged students than in 2009."
  • "[T]his study cannot address the question of whether charter schools manipulate their recruitment to obtain more academically prepared students, known as cream-skimming. . . . What we can say, however, is that the demographic trends since the earlier report point to more challenging students, not less, which would run counter to the notion of selectivity on
    prior education performance."
  • "The analysis of charter schools in the original 16 states covered in the 2009 report shows that they have maintained or slightly increased their impact on student learning in the intervening years. The rise in average student growth across the continuing schools is due in no small part to the closure of low-performing schools, which amounted to about 8 percent of the 2009 sample of schools."
  • "The 27 states in our study provide the widest angle view of the charter school sector to date. Across multiple measures, the students in these charter schools have shown both improved quality over the results from 2009 and an upward trend in their performance over the past five years. Compared to their likely TPS [(Traditional Public School)] alternative, the average charter school student now gains an additional 8 days of learning each year in reading, compared to a loss of 7 days each year in the 2009 report. In math, students in 2009 posted 22 fewer days of learning; today, charter school students have equivalent levels of learning in math as their TPS peers."
  • "As with the 2009 report, the amount an average charter student learns each year varies widely across states. . . . In reading, charter school students on average have significantly stronger growth than TPS students in 16 of the 27 states evaluated. Reading growth was weaker for charter students in eight states and similar in three states. In math, 12 state charter sectors had stronger growth than TPS, 13 states had weaker growth, and two had growth that was similar to TPS."
  • "While much ground remains to be covered, charter schools in the 27 states are outperforming their TPS peer schools in greater numbers than in 2009. . . . [A] quarter of charter schools outperform their local TPS alternatives in reading, and 29 percent do so in math. The figure from 2009 was 17 percent of schools with stronger gains in math and 37 percent with smaller gains than the comparison TPS performance. And the share of charter schools that produced inferior outcomes compared to their local TPS has declined to 19 percent of schools in reading and 31 percent in math. "


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