Friday, November 02, 2007

Charter School Achievement: What We Know


A good report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (full disclosure: I will soon join its board):

Charter School Achievement: What We Know (4th  Edition)
Bryan C. Hassel, Michelle Godard Terrell, Ashley Kain,  Todd Ziebarth
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
October  2007
Charter advocates must consume and digest a lot of information  to stay ahead of their opponents. Fortunately, the National Alliance for  Public Charter Schools makes staying informed a bit easier with its short  updates on the movement's vital stats. First is a three-pager on the  communities where charters have the greatest market share. New Orleans, not  surprisingly, leads with 57 percent. But a slew of other places have made big gains, too. Twenty-nine communities (including the Big Easy) send at least 13 percent of their youngsters to charter schools; last year, 19 made the 13-percent list. And eight of these, including the District of Columbia,  Detroit, Kansas City, and Fordham's hometown of Dayton, send more than a fifth. The other paper is an updated version of NAPCS's review of the  literature on charter school achievement. Of the 39 studies that used longitudinal data to measure progress over time, 20 show that charters made greater gains overall than traditional public schools, four find that charters  made smaller gains overall, and 15 fall somewhere in between. Charter supporters should cite these figures with gusto. But they shouldn't fail to  notice that the record, though skewed, is still mixed. As the authors note,  "Asking about the quality of 'charter schools' as a group is a bit like asking about the quality of 'new restaurants'... any overall generalization will mask the great diversity within." They call for better longitudinal studies, especially gold-standard randomized experiments, as well as more and better  qualitative research on why some charter schools perform so much better than others. Here's hoping next year's list contains some valuable additions. Get  the market share report here <;uid=50189>  and the research review here <;uid=50189> .

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