Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Study finds Average Test Scores for Middle Schoolers at Network-run Charter Schools Not Significantly Different than Public Schools

There was another study released this month that showed that, counter to public beliefs, the average test scores at charter schools run as a network (multiple charter schools run by the same management company, such as the KIPP and SEED schools featured in Waiting For Superman) is not statistically different than the averages at typical public schools.

But, as is so often the case with statistics, that statement obscures what is really happening.  Among the 22 schools in the study, close to half had test scores in reading and math were higher than the norm for regular public schools.  But about another third had test scores in those subjects that were significantly worse than public schools, with the remainder on par with the schools.

So, that means that taken as a whole, charter schools aren't doing any better than public schools.  If your child goes to any individual charter school, though, there is a good chance that it will outperform the average public school.  However, there is also a fair chance that it will do worse that its typical neighbors.

Once again, I don't mean to bad mouth charter schools; some are obviously doing an exemplary job, such as Raleigh Charter School here in our area.  However, parents need to know that charter schools are not the panacea that many educational reformers make them out to be.  Charter schools are experiments, and like all experiments, some will work out well, while others will be a failure.  There are a high percentage of these network-run schools that even though they have all the things these reformers want--longer class hours, performance-based payment for teachers, etc.--they have lower test scores than the average middle school

If you want to see the report, which was done by Mathematica Policy Research and the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington, you can access it here.

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