Down Arrow On North Carolina Charter Schools

A new study (pdf) by Duke’s Helen Ladd and University of Connecticut Professor Robert Bifulco about charter school achievement in North Carolina is worth reading. Ladd and Bifulco find that, overall, charter school students there lag and make smaller gains than they would in traditional public schools. This study is much more methodologically sophisticated than the recent AFT study, both because of the data available and the skills of the researchers.

Couple of takeaways:

1) Something is amiss in NC and hopefully further research will tease out what. Ladd and Bifulco cite student mobility as one factor.

2) This shows how state specific charter schooling policies are. The findings stand in contrast to results from other states and other studies. Something to keep in mind.

3) Calculus of education politics: Well done study = very little press, hatchet job = front page of New York Times…oh well.

Also, North Carolina’s public schools have been improving (pdf) over the past decade as the state has pursued a standards-based focus. That improvement could be enhancing this effect…still not good news for charters though.

Also, Part II: Harvard econ whiz Caroline Hoxby has new charter data coming out, apparently this week and apparently much more robust than the AFT data.

Also, Part III: CSM’s Mendez takes a long look at the choice debate.

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