CREDO: Charters do better in reading

Charter students show greater learning gains in reading and similar gains in math compared to students in traditional public schools, concludes the National Charter School Study 2013 by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO).

The neediest students show the strongest gains: Low-income students, blacks and English Learners “gain significantly more days of learning each year in both reading and math” if they attended charter schools rather than traditional public schools, the study found.

More charter schools are high performers and some underperforming charters have closed, concludes CREDO, which analyzed data from 26 states and New York City.

“The results reveal that the charter school sector is getting better on average and that charter schools are benefiting low-income, disadvantaged, and special education students,” says Dr. Margaret Raymond, director of CREDO.

Charter school enrollment has grown among students who are in poverty, black students, and Hispanic students, the study found.

Charters do the best for the worst students, according to an MIT analysis reported by the Boston Globe.

Lower-income students who performed poorly on tests while attending traditional public schools did much better after enrolling in charter schools. Moreover, their improvement was greater than fellow charter students who had previously tested well in traditional public schools.

In other words, those most in need of educational improvement tended to benefit the most from charter schools.

A string of recent studies have found urban charter schools produce learning gains, while suburban and rural charters have mixed results.

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  1. Mike in Texas says:

    But how about the rest of the story?

    70% of charters do no better or worse than public schools, despite the overwhelming edges they have i.e. hand picked students, ability to kick students out.

    Or this: The CREDO analysis found charters in the 26 states studied enrolled significantly fewer special-needs students and children not fluent in English than neighborhood schools around them, but about the same number of students in poverty.”

  2. Ummm, charters don’t hand pick students and have no more or less ability to kick students out then do district schools. District administrators, untroubled by disruptive kids being disruptive, don’t kick them out until their disruptions can no longer be contained. Charters, chosen by parents, are rather more attentive to the disruptions caused by disruptive kids and kick them out.

    And the CREDO study found that charters enrolled a *higher* percentage of ESL students then do district schools as well as a higher percentage of poor kids.

    The table that contains those numbers is Table 5 on page 25.

    Of course attention paid to such minutia is attention that can’t be paid to the crucial difference between charters and district schools – parents are in charge. But the voting public does seem to be more and more aware of that crucial difference.

    • Mike in Texas says:

      Not surprised you didn’t comprehend the sentence:

      The CREDO analysis found charters in the 26 states studied enrolled significantly fewer special-needs students and children not fluent in English than neighborhood schools around them

      • Not surprised you’re not trying to defend the lie that charters are selective.

        Oh yeah, the table to which I referred, and you didn’t, has charters with a higher percentage of ESL students. Feel free to provide a reference in support of what you wrote.

  3. I don’t have study data to show it, but I suspect that a big reason that charters don’t show gains for middle income students is that fewer charters are allowed to serve such students. Here in Illinois, the local districts have to approve charters being launched. If you wanted to start a suburban charter catering to gifted students, it would surely be blocked. What regular school would want to lose its best students? If such schools were allowed, I would not be surprised if they could produce measurable gains by non-poor students, who could be freed up to excel.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      An interesting hypothetical. While colleges are allowed to be selective, and parents try to get their kids into the most selective college possible, charters are generally forbidden to “reject” unpromising students. I know of no charter that markets itself, “Send your kids here. We are Harvard and your local school is Podunk State.”

      • I’ve never heard of any charter that enjoys the luxury of selectivity. If you know of any such I wish you’d share the knowledge.

        Now certain district schools *do* enjoy the luxury of selecting and rejecting students. Those would be magnet schools and they’ve been selecting students from among their applicants for decades. If selectivity were intrinsically offensive then I’d expect to have heard complaints about magnet schools for a long time. But there are none which leads to the inevitable conclusion that the true complaint is that charter schools represent a danger to the public education status quo.

        And that they most assuredly do.

        • I’d guess the ‘selection bias’ from charters comes from the fact that they select for kids whose parents care enough about education to try to get them into a charter. While these kids were struggling in the old schools, they have the basic structure and attitudes at home to succeed in a school where education is the priority.

          Meanwhile, the kids whose parents reject the importance of education would fail anywhere, even in a charter. But they don;t bother trying to go to charters.

          It only takes a handful of kids whose families don’t value school to destroy an entire class’s opportunity to learn.

          • And what percentage of parents would it be who care enough about their kid’s education to try to get them into charters? The number who have their kids in charters or that number plus those that are wait-listed? How about parents who’ve never heard of charters? Parents who’ve sunk into apathy that’s a not uncommon response to the imperturbable indifference of edu-bureaucrats?

            I’m of the opinion that the percentage of parents who truly are indifferent to the fate of their children is a rather smaller number then is necessary to validate that particular excuse for the shortcomings of the public education system.

            While it’s certainly true that it doesn’t take many “whose families don’t value school” to disrupt learning it takes even fewer administrators to ignore their disruption to effect the same end. The means exist to expel disruptive students, they’re just not exercised.

            And really, why should those kids be expelled? The parents of the kids who aren’t disruptive don’t have any authority to expel the disruptive kids and neither do the teachers saddled with those disruptive kids. The people who do have that authority have little reason to exercise it since whether the kids learn is largely immaterial.

  4. Uh oh, Diane Ravitch is going to have to memorize another fact, as the one fact she remembers about the 2009 CREDO study is now out of date!