Iowa rejects independent charter schools

Iowa’s charter schools are run by school districts. It turns out they’re not very innovative,  reports the Des Moines Register. In essence, the state collected federal charter funding for a handful of magnet schools with no autonomy or ability to challenge the status quo.

Iowa schools, once rated the best in the nation, are slipping in national rankings.

In North Carolina, a top-scoring charter school that uses Direct Instruction wonders why the state seems uninterested in learning about their methods.

(Founder Baker) Mitchell said he feels the state is not really looking at the good things his school is doing, and he doesn’t know whether regular public schools are learning anything from the charter school.

Indeed, the state doesn’t keep track of innovations at charter schools and how they influence the public school system, said Jean Kruft , a consultant with the N.C. Office of Charter Schools.

Illinois will double the number of charter schools, including charters for five schools specializing in drop-outs.

Update: Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, spoke at the House Education and Labor Committee hearing on charter schools, reports Edspresso:

“I’m from the state of Ohio, so I think I look at things a little differently because most of our charter schools are not public charter schools. So, you may hear me coming from a very different vantage point.”

Of course, charters are public schools by definition. Fudge’s flub wasn’t the only one at the charter hearings.

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  1. This story may seem compelling, but it’s anecdotal evidence, not real proof of effectiveness. In over forty years the curriculum called Direct Instruction has not been able to produce a single scientifically based research study that shows it’s effective. A check on the What Works Clearinghouse will confirm this. When DI promoters are called on this, they always give the same reply. There are lots of “studies” that purport to show the Direct Instruction program works, just not any scientifically based research that meets the rigorous Clearinghouse standards. Such studies are too difficult, the Clearinghouse is too demanding, for DI to bother with. I say that after forty years it’s time for Direct Instruction proponents to stop complaining and actually produce a research study that passes valid scientific standards. Other reading programs that haven’t been around nearly as long as Direct Instruction have been able to produce scientifically valid studies that are cited in the What Works Clearinghouse. This includes highly scripted programs such as Success for All.

    It is important not to confuse the reading curriculum named Direct Instruction with direct instruction as a teaching approach. Success for All uses a direct instruction approach in its reading program.

  2. Tracy W says:

    Project Followthrough was scientifically-valid, even though it didn’t meet the WWC standards for random assignment. The test of scientific-validness is whether a hypothesis could be falsified. Project Followthrough wasn’t randomised, but it’s more than anecdotal.

    I will not that if we talk about scientific validity fully, we never have proof of a theory, at best we have theories that have not yet been disproved despite the toughest tests we’ve thrown at them.

    I agree that it would be good if the DI people with the money did the work of a randomised assignment.

  3. What’s that? A charter school run by a public school district that isn’t very innovative? As Gomer Plye would say, “Surprise, surprise.”