Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bad News for Ohio Charters

The Fordham Institute commissioned Stanford's CREDO center to do an in depth look at Ohio's charter schools.  CREDO has produced two national studies of charters, which most consider to be the gold standard, so their findings in regard to a particular state were sure to carry weight.  The Fordham Institute, a staunch supporter of charters, calls the results sobering.  The report found:

Compared to the educational gains that charter students would have had in a
traditional public school (TPS), the analysis shows on average that students in Ohio
charter schools perform worse in both reading and mathematics. The impact is
statistically significant: thinking of a 180-day school year as "one year of learning",
an average Ohio charter student would have completed 14 fewer days of
learning in reading and 36 fewer days in math. There are positive notes found
in the analysis. For example, students in urban charter schools in Ohio post
superior yearly gains compared to the statewide average student
performance; this finding is unique among the numerous state studies that
CREDO has completed. Another positive result is the learning gain superiority
for students in poverty and especially for black charter students in
poverty: their progress over a year's time outpaces that of equivalent TPS

To the Fordham Institute's credit, the results were not a surprise.  The Institute, in an apparent act of intellectual integrity, sought to shine a spot light on Ohio to prompt the improvement of problematic charter systems, which presumably will benefit the movement long-term.  In other words, Fordham admits the picture of charters is far from perfect and wants to engage the problem.   The picture, however, is not all bad in Ohio either.  As the block quotes notes, there was a silver lining for Cleveland charters.  Others also noted that the statewide gap between traditional public schools and charters, while large, has closed since the last study.  Thus, charters are improving.  

This, unfortunately, still begs the question of why charters?  Weren't they supposed to close achievement gaps, rather than expand them so that we might later applaud them for closing a gap they created?  Applause of that sort would seem to be premised on charters as an inherent good, rather than an objective assessment of their academic value.  This is not a per se attack on charters, but an observation of where the converation about them stands.

Links to my earlier posts discussing the results of CREDO's most recent national results are here.

Charters and Vouchers | Permalink


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