Charter schools -- a mixed report | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 15, 2009

Charter schools -- a mixed report

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 1:40 PM

Stanford University has announced what it describes as a comprehensive study of charter school performance in 16 states, including Arkansas.

Collectively, the report was not banner news for charter schools, as a summary on the jump indicates. Students in 83 percent did the same or worse than students in "traditional public schools."

BUT, the report held good news for charter advocates in Arkansas, where the study found charter school students scored "significantly better" than public school peers. Interestingly, Arkansas scored well although it runs contrary to what the report cited as a potential positive indicator for better charter school performance. We have a cap on charter schools. Elsewhere, this seemed to be linked to lower academic results, the report said. It's a mountain of research and I haven't yet found what the report provides, if any, on specific schools.

STANFORD NEWS RELEASE

Key findings from the report include:
 

• As a collective group, students in charter schools are not faring as well as students in traditional public schools.
• 17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts, with 46 percent of charter schools demonstrating no significant difference.
• For students that are low income, charter schools had a larger and more positive effect than for similar students in traditional public schools. English Language Learner students also reported significantly better gains in charter schools, while special education students reported similar results.
• Students do better in charter schools over time. While first year charter school students on average experienced a decline in learning, students in their second and third years in charter schools saw a significant reversal, experiencing positive achievement gains. 
• The report found that achievement results varied by states that reported individual data, with charter schools in five states significantly outperforming their traditional peers, four states showing no difference and with six states significantly underperforming their traditional peers.

FURTHER NEWS RELEASE

CHARTER SCHOOLS IN ARKANSAS PERFORM SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER THAN THEIR TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOL PEERS
Stanford Report Recognizes Robust Demand, Supply and Exceptional Charters, Faults Quality Controls, Authorizers and Charter Caps
 
Stanford, CA – A new report issued today by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that there is a wide variance in the quality of the nation’s several thousand charter schools with, in the aggregate, students in charter schools not faring as well as students in traditional public schools.
 
While the report recognized a robust national demand for more charter schools from parents and local communities, it found that 17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts, with 46 percent of charter schools demonstrating no significant difference.
 
The report found that the academic success of students in charter schools was affected by the individual state policy environment.  States with caps limiting the number of charter schools reported significantly lower academic results than states without caps limiting charter growth. States that have the presence of multiple charter school authorizers also reported lower academic results than states with fewer authorizers in place. Finally, states with charter legislation allowing for appeals of previously denied charter school applications saw a small but significant increase in student performance.
 
The Stanford report, entitled, “Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States,” is the first detailed national assessment of charter school impacts since its longitudinal, student-level analysis covers more than 70 percent of the nation’s students attending charter schools. The analysis looks at student achievement growth on state achievement tests in both reading and math with controls for student demographics and eligibility for program support such as free or reduced-price lunch and special education.  The analysis includes the most current student achievement data from 15 states and the District of Columbia and gauges whether students who attend charter schools fare better than if they would have attended a traditional public school.
 
“The issue of quality is the most pressing problem that the charter school movement faces,” said Dr. Margaret Raymond, director of CREDO at Stanford University.  “The charter school movement continues to work hard to remove barriers to charter school entry into the market, making notable strides to level the playing field and improve access to facilities funding, but now it needs to equally focus on removing the barriers to exit, which means closing underperforming schools.”
 
Arkansas
 
A supplemental report, with an in-depth examination of the results for charter schools in Arkansas found that reading and math gains were significantly better in charter school students compared to their traditional public school peers.
 
The report found several key positive findings regarding the academic performance of students attending Arkansas charter schools. For students that are low income, charter schools had a larger and more positive effect than for similar students in traditional public schools. African-American and Hispanic charter school students also reported significantly better gains in math.
 
The report also found that Arkansas students do better in charter schools over time. While first year charter school students on average experienced no significant impact in learning, students in their third year in charter schools saw a significant impact, experiencing positive achievement gains. 

 
Overall State Results
 
The report found that achievement results varied by states that reported individual data. States with reading and math gains that were significantly higher for charter school students than would have occurred in traditional schools included: Arkansas, Colorado (Denver), Illinois (Chicago), Louisiana and Missouri.  
 
States with reading and math gains that were either mixed or were not different than their peers in the traditional public school system included: California, the District of Columbia, Georgia and North Carolina.
 
States with reading and math gains that were significantly below their peers in the traditional public school system included: Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Texas.
 
"If the supporters of charter schools fail to address the quality challenge, they run the risk of having it addressed for them," said Dr. Raymond.  "If the charter school movement is to flourish, a deliberate and sustained effort to increase the proportion of high quality schools is essential.  The replication of successful charter school models is one important element of this effort.  On the other side of the equation, however, authorizers, charter school advocates and policymakers must be willing and able to fulfill their end of the original charter school bargain, which is accountability in exchange for flexibility."
 

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