New Report: Systematically analyzing the impacts of charters

Posted by on March 30, 2009

Systematically analyzing the impacts of charters

A new study by the RAND Corporation looks at charter schools in Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia, Denver, Milwaukee, and the states of Ohio, Texas, and Florida, using longitudinal, student-level data across multiple communities and varied charter laws. The study finds scant evidence that charters produce achievement substantially different than those of traditional public schools. It cautions, however, that the evidence is incomplete: Elementary schools — a substantial proportion of all charters — aren’t easily assessed. Two groups of charters, those in the first year of operation and those serving students remotely through technology, prompt concern over low performance. The most promising results from charters are long-term outcomes of high school graduation and college entry. In the two locations with available data on attainment outcomes (Chicago and Florida), charter high schools appear to increase the probability of graduating by 7 to 15 percentage points, and increase the probability of enrolling in college by 8 to 10 percentage points. The study refutes the idea that charters are “skimming the cream” of the student population: Students entering charter schools have prior achievement levels comparable to their peers in traditional public schools. Nor do charters produce effects that substantially help or harm student achievement in nearby traditional public schools.

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