CREDO: Charter networks maintain quality

Good charter schools start strong, concludes a new CREDO study which found no “new school” wobbles that correct over time. Schools that rank in the lowest 20 percent tend to stay bad. In the middle, there’s some progress, especially for elementary schools.

Charter networks show better performance for low-income and minority students compared to nearby district-run schools, but, overall, do about the same.

Of four “super-networks,” KIPP and Uncommon Schools had a large positive effect on students’ academic growth in reading and math, the study concludes. Students did worse in reading at Responsive Education Solutions, which specializes in dropouts from traditional schools. White Hat, which manages online schools and alternative education centers, “had a small but significant positive impact on reading progress, but a significant negative effect in math.”

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  1. If we’re going entirely on test scores, saying that KIPP and the other high performers are doing well, therefore charters are good is like saying that Whitney Young is doing well, therefore district schools are good. In reality, the main argument for charters is that parents like them as a way to get their children out of district schools that have bad school climates. IF charter authorizers limited charter growth to proven winners like KIPP, the resulting schools would on average be better, but they would still not be performing as models (as they were meant to be) because they would still not be serving the hardest-to-serve students. The only fair comparison is with district schools that can separate disruptive students and damaged students from the main student body. Hard to see how that would happen.

    • Mike in Texas says:

      KIPP is successful because it counsels out or expels 60% of its students. Hardly a successful model.

      • Feel free to provide some evidence in support.

        • Florida resident says:

          Dear “allen”,
          here is the source:

          From there:
          … The group portrait shows wide variation in performance. The study reveals that a decent fraction
          of charter schools, 17 percent, provide superior education opportunities for their students.
          Nearly half of the charter schools nationwide have results that are no different from the local
          public school options and over a third, 37 percent, deliver learning results that are significantly
          worse than their student would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools.
          These findings underlie the parallel findings of significant state?by?state differences in charter
          school performance and in the national aggregate performance of charter schools. The policy
          challenge is how to deal constructively with varying levels of performance today and into the

          • Dear “Florida resident”, no, that isn’t the source. Sorry.

            I want the source for Mike in Texas’ “counsels out or expels 60% of its students” tidbitlet.


        • Roger Sweeny says:

          I don’t know about 60% but everyone agrees that a large proportion of the students who begin at KIPP schools leave because they are either not succeeding there or do not want to put in the extra time and effort that KIPP requires compared to traditional schools.

          KIPP is fairly upfront about this. I copied this from the KIPP website:

          “KIPP schools share a core set of operating principles known as the Five Pillars [High Expectations, Choice and Commitment, More Time, Power to Lead, Focus on Results]:


          Students, their parents, and the faculty of each KIPP school choose to participate in the program. No one is assigned or forced to attend a KIPP school. Everyone must make and uphold a commitment to the school and to each other to put in the time and effort required to achieve success.

          MORE TIME

          KIPP schools know that there are no shortcuts when it comes to success in academics and life. With an extended school day, week, and year, students have more time in the classroom to acquire the academic knowledge and skills that will prepare them for competitive high schools and colleges, as well as more opportunities to engage in diverse extracurricular experiences.”

          Interestingly, the John Derbyshire article that Florida Resident references agrees that KIPP is not a replicable model because it only works for a small subset of young people.

          • We can all agree that the sun goes around the Earth. Doesn’t make it so and investigating the idea’s liable to reveal the truth. If there’s been any investigating that supports Mike’s assertion I’d like to inspect it.

            I’ve gotten bupkus in the way of a response.

            Mike’s made an assertion which, given his history, will either remain just that or will be supported by sources of dubious objectivity and/or veracity.

            So far it’s looking like Mike’s waiting for this post to roll off the bottom of the blog which doesn’t exactly enhance his credibility or that of his claim.

      • Florida resident says:
  2. Mike in Texas says:

    Here are the facts on KIPP, you can count on Allen to ignore them.

    “KIPP schools have substantially higher levels of attrition than do their local school districts.
    Our analysis revealed that on, average, approximately 15% of the students disappear from the
    KIPP grade cohorts each year.”

    I’m sure even Allen can calculate how many years at a 15% attrition rate it will take to reach 60%,

    But then again maybe not.

    And here’s more evidence for Allen to ignore:

    “In a rigorous 2008 study of five KIPP schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, researchers at SRI International found that an astounding 60% of KIPP students left over the course of middle-school. “

    • Mathematica’s 2012 study looked at whether attrition explains the much higher performance of KIPP middle school (grades 5-8) students:

      “On average, we find that KIPP schools generally admit students who are disadvantaged in ways similar to their peers in local public schools. Rates of exit from KIPP schools are typically no different than rates at nearby district schools, and students exiting KIPP schools have characteristics similar to those of students exiting local district schools. To replace students who exit through attrition, KIPP schools admit a substantial number of new students in grade 6 but admit fewer students in grades 7 and 8 than do nearby public schools. Unlike local district schools, KIPP’s late entrants also tend to have higher prior achievement levels and fewer males than the rest of the KIPP student body.”

      Conclusion: “At most, these effects can only explain about a quarter of KIPP’s cumulative impact throughout middle school.”

    • Oh Mike, you make it too easy:

      “KIPP *schools* have substantially higher levels of attrition than do their local school *districts*.”

      You’re repeating yourself. You tried, some time back, to run the same scam comparing charter schools to *state* averages.

      In any case, who cares? Pretty clearly the district system’s worn out its welcome and just between you and me I think the concept of public education’s starting to look a bit threadbare.