Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Boston Charters Benefit Low-income Students the Most

A VERY important study by an MIT graduate student on how charter schools in Boston benefit low-income students the most:

Not every graduate student who passes through Boston leaves a lasting influence on the city. But Chris Walters, a Virginia native who this month received his PhD in economics from MIT, may just be one of them.

His thesis is reshaping the debate over charter schools and the role they can play in boosting academic achievement in poor urban communities, where traditional public schools have often failed. His paper, the culmination of 2½ years of work, is making the rounds in City Hall and on Beacon Hill, causing a stir as lawmakers once again consider whether to increase the number of charter schools in the state and city.

Building on prior Massachusetts Institute of Technology studies that found charter school students in Boston tend to do better on standardized tests than students in the city’s other public schools, Walters dug into the data, looked at prior results from different angles, crunched old and new numbers, and asked slightly different questions.

His conclusion: Lower-income students who performed poorly on tests while attending traditional public schools did much better after enrolling in charter schools. Moreover, their improvement was greater than fellow charter students who had previously tested well in traditional public schools.

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