Argument: Charter schools are performing better than public schools

Issue Report: Charter schools


Scot Lehigh. “A strong case for more charter schools”. Boston Globe. January 7, 2009 – “Compared with students in traditional schools, charter school students are doing significantly better in math and English, according to the analysis by researchers from Harvard and MIT.”

In some grades, the results of the study – which compares pupils who won a charter school spot in the student-selection lotteries used by oversubscribed charters with those who lost out – are dramatic.

The magnitude of improvement jumps out when students who got a lottery slot for the sixth grade are compared with those who did not. Both groups began at the same performance point, slightly above the Boston public school average.

“By eighth grade, though, the lottery winners on average were scoring very close to the Brookline public school average performance in math,” says study leader Thomas Kane, professor of education and economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “But the lottery losers, who mostly went back to the traditional public schools in Boston, were still only slightly above the Boston public school average.”

The charter results weren’t as pronounced at all grade levels, but they were consistently strong.

The research team also compared students in the traditional public schools with those of similar backgrounds who went to charters, an observational method that showed significant gains as well.

“[W]e generally find large positive effects for Charter Schools, at both the middle school and high school levels,” the authors write.

“Orleans charters score better on LEAP than traditional schools”. The Times Picayune. July 31, 2007 – At Sophie B. Wright, one of many New Orleans charter schools that outperformed most traditional public schools on this year’s LEAP test, the faculty makes academic achievement a daily competition.

In scores released this week, charter schools such as Wright posted higher scores at every grade level, with some showing vast improvement over their pre-Katrina, pre-charter performance under the Orleans Parish School Board.

At Wright, a Recovery District charter school, children on the honor roll get T-shirts with their names embroidered on the back, a color signifying each marking period. Teachers get a monetary bonus when their students perform well on the state’s high-stakes assessment test.

Students at the school, once one of the system’s lowest-performing campuses, posted far better results this year, with 71 percent of fourth-graders scoring “basic” or higher on the English portion and 80 percent meeting that standard in math. Though eighth-graders didn’t do as well, they scored far better than past eighth-grade classes there.

Dan Juneau. “Report: Louisiana, New Orleans Charter Schools Get Good Grade”. Bayou Buzz – Recently released scores for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” show that charter schools in Louisiana are outperforming charter schools nationally and are holding their own with traditional public schools in both Louisiana and the nation, as a whole. After a bumpy start, the charter school initiative in Louisiana appears to be paying dividends. Perhaps nowhere is that underscored more than in the newly formed charter school alliance in New Orleans.