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  • Charter Students Outperform Their Traditional Public School Peers

    Students who entered and won a lottery to attend a charter school in New York outperformed their peers who entered the lottery but did not win a spot and instead enrolled in a traditional public school. According to new research by Stanford Professor Caroline Hoxby, which is highlighted today in both the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, students attending charter schools in New York outperform their peers who remained in traditional public schools in math and reading.

    New York Charter school students, which typically come from disadvantaged families, scored nearly as well as students enrolled in the affluent Scarsdale school district. According to the study:

    On average, a student who attended a charter school for all of grades kindergarten through eight would close about 86 percent of the ‘Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap’ in math and 66 percent of the achievement gap in English.

    Ms. Hoxby’s study used the most rigorous research method possible. The New York Times points out:

    Charter schools, which are privately run but publicly financed, have been faring well on standardized tests in recent years. But skeptics have discounted their success by accusing them of “creaming” the best students, saying that the most motivated students and engaged parents are the ones who apply for the spots.

    The study’s methodology addresses that issue by comparing charter school students with students of traditional schools who applied for charter spots but did not get them.

    This rigorous “gold standard” methodology is the same as that used by Dr. Patrick Wolf, who authored the federally-mandated evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, finding that students who received vouchers through the OSP made gains in reading equivalent to 3.1 additional months of learning. These studies show that school choice produced powerful academic gains for students – whether in charter school or private school settings.

    Not everyone is cheering the positive news, however. The WSJ reports:

    Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, argued that New York City’s charter schools aren’t representative of the nation’s, because the state caps charter schools and agencies vet them thoroughly before authorizing them, assuring they are of higher quality than elsewhere.

    According to the Journal, 40,000 students are on a waitlist to attend one of New York’s 99 charter schools. More than half of all states have some form of charter cap, and the high demand for a spot in a charter school is also a testament to their effectiveness.

    Hoxby’s study found that many of these schools had long school days and recognized exceptional teachers with merit pay.

    The WSJ concluded with a quote from New York schools Chancellor Joel Klein:

    We want to make New York City the Silicon Valley of charter schools.

    President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have been vocal supporters of charter schools. In fact, access to the $4.35 billion “race to the top” fund in the ARRA is contingent upon a state encouraging charter school growth. Between the empirical evidence and the administration’s support, this could be the year for serious growth in the charter school movement – enhancing educational choice for families.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Charter Students Outperform Their Traditional Public School Peers

    1. Pingback: Morning Conservative Reading List - September 24, 2009 - AIP Blog - American Issues Project

    2. Vance, Idaho says:

      Good luck with that last statement. As evidenced by the Weingarten comment (echoing the ongoing AFT and NEA mantras), the unions will continue to block real reform at ever turn. Instead of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for significant reform, the Race to the Top money's impact will be minimized through passive and active resistance. What a shame; a huge opportunity for our kids will be lost due to power hungry union leadershi who only want to maintain their grip on our public education system.

    3. Ross writes from Bra says:

      Of course teacher's union would be against charter schools.

      Unions are the breeding stables for mediocrity. That's the reason for the last 40 years downward spiral in the governmental educational system. Therefore, by world standards, our youth are not competitive and have not been in science and math for generations. Plus, too many are unable speak or read simple english, much less being able to write even simplest sentences. Government schools would get an "F" for students not only knowing history and government but understanding it. Unions stand in the way of the highest quality of education.

      All government schools should be at the same quality level as charter school…it even cost less per student. Not to mention, teacher accountability and incentative pay rewards the best and exposes those who should not be teaching our national treasure, our youth.

    4. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      The purpose of Public Schools is socialization and not education. Dumbed so far down, the point of the study compares oranges to banana peels. Anybody pretending to be shocked is suspect in my world, this has been going on for years. We have tried everything to save the schools but our government wants to wreck them, so no matter what you send up the Hill, it comes back smashed. Proof, if you need any more, that ours is not truly a representative Democracy.

    5. Georga, Rio Rancho, says:

      Home school or…???

      Take a look at what Jeb Bush did with Florida schools in spite of the unions. Just went to a seminar focusing on this. He's still fighting to keep these positive changes. Vouchers are given, schools are graded and if they flunk they close. Professionals are given credentials to teach based on their skills in the real world. Fourth grade reading levels were best in the nation even with low income children.

    6. Tim AZ says:

      If your child can read thank a teacher. If your child can't read thank a union.

    7. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      If it involves sound reasoning, real scientific and mathematical facts, then Obama will not use it. Why should he, Gore didn't and look where it got him!

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