Charter schools excel in Boston

Boston’s charter schools outperform district-run public schools, according to a four-year Boston Foundation study.  However, the city’s experimental “pilot schools” produced “ambiguous” results, reports the Boston Globe.

In the most stark example, charters – independent public schools dedicated to innovative teaching – excelled significantly in middle school math. However, pilots, which have similar goals but are run by the School Department, performed at slightly lower rates than traditional schools, according to the study.

Researchers looked at the performance of students who applied to a charter or pilot school and were admitted via lottery versus those who applied but lost the lottery and attended a traditional public school.  Boston Foundation states:

The report directly addresses two of the most frequent criticisms leveled at earlier studied of Pilot and Charter schools: that their students are not representative of traditional Boston schools but rather are more likely to succeed; and that charters and pilots tend to shed students who do not perform up to their standards, again creating an elite student body that will inevitably outperform their BPS peers.

Winning the charter lottery made a significant difference for students. In middle-school math, half the black-white achievement gap was erased in one year.

Update: Eduwonkette notes that the study necessarily included only charter schools with so many applicants that they need to hold lotteries. Presumably, less successful schools aren’t in high demand. True enough, though apparently pilot schools that need to hold lotteries aren’t raising achievement.

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  1. tim-10-ber says:

    Way to go Boston charter schools!! Will someone please explain to me what teacher in their right mind would not want to see this kind of success for their students?

    I think my mother is correct — she has worked with countless teachers and administrators across the county. Teachers, she believes should be some of the most engaging/exciting people to be around. Sadly, she has not found this to be the case. (Yes, she is and was one of the most engaging people/teachers you will meet.)

    Any wonder why kids are not engaged in learning if the teacher is not excited about what they are doing? It is very hard when someone is excited about what they are doing for that excitement not to wear off on others…

    I believe the teachers my mother would love to work with are found in these charter schools.

    Come on forced education employees be true professionals and demand the best from the systems you work for…right now public education is more like prison…break out, work for the charters, revive education. Our children are depending on you. Oooops — not mine. We left the failure called public schools in my district. Got tired of no improvement after 14 years of active involvement…

    We have to do better to get this country back on track. Right now public education, I believe, has helped sink it and was designed to dumb down the public.

    I have had enough of the public education nonsense!

    Read There Are No Shortcuts. That book should clearly outline what it takes to help so many of the kids found in today’s public schools succeed. Yes, it is hard work but the kids learn and want to learn…

    I am waiting for the day of rebellion from the ranks of public education teachers who are fed up…I doubt that day will ever come…nope teachers once tenured get a free ride and the students and tax payers suffer…give me a break!

  2. I’m glad to see the Boston Foundation is planning a follow up study to determine how and why charter schools are performing better.

    From the link to the study:

    “Finally, the authors stress that this study was designed to respond to the important question of whether different types of schools produce significant achievement gains, and not to explain why or how charters and pilots might have an impact on performance. The Boston Foundation has announced its intentions of funding future studies that will address these questions.”

  3. tim-10-ber,

    I read There are No Shortcuts last year. When our PTA held a meet the teachers night I attempted to discuss it with some of the teachers. I talked with around 10 teachers that night, but not a single teacher had heard of the book or the author. It left me wondering about the nature of the book’s audience. Do any teachers read that book? Or are involved parents the primary audience?