This Week’s TIME: Leaders And Lemons

This week’s TIME column looks at the issue of charter school quality. A new study coming tomorrow shows results that are at once exhilarating and sobering.  Is the price of creating space for more great schools the creation of some lousy ones as well?

The two most common criticisms about charter schools are that A) many of them aren’t that good and B) the good ones can’t be replicated to serve enough kids to really make a difference. TIME got an exclusive first look at the most comprehensive evaluation of charter school networks ever, and although the study, which will be released on Nov. 4, underscores the challenge of creating quality schools, it also makes clear that it is indeed possible to build a lot of schools that are game-changers for a lot of students.

Leader?  Lemon?  Regardless you can click here and read the entire column over at TIME including a preview of some of the findings in the new Mathematica-CRPE CMO study.

8 thoughts on “This Week’s TIME: Leaders And Lemons

  1. daprofessor

    sorry, but in scanning Andy’s time piece about the new charter school study I’m afraid we won’t learn anything about whether charter schools, and certain charter schools in particular, have a positive causal impact on student learning.

    the study is not an RCT thus there is no way to properly control for selection bias of students. simply can’t learn anything here. need the lotteries.

    hoxby’s study is still the only one worth it’s salt. observational research on this sort of stuff is find for the chattering classes to enjoy and advocacy groups will milk it for all its worth, but no randomization means no causal takeaway.

    sorry, i’m a purist. i heart russ whitehurst =)

  2. Charterschoolconsultant

    Two Words: SELECTION BIAS

    CMO’s with 4 or more schools in operation better be performing well. In order to expand to 4 schools a charter authorizing board would have had to have seen evidence of success in the first 3 schools. It is no surprise that organizations that are successful with the first few schools are more likely to replicate success.

    Having 4 charter schools is the equivalent of being vetted and given a seal of approval by a panel of education experts. Of course they are better than average. If you want to do an apples to apples comparison you should look at CMO’s with four schools compared with public schools that have also been vetted and given a seal of approval by education experts. How about your CMO’s vs. Blue Ribbon public schools?

    The most dishonest part of your “study” is when you write that one of the criticisms of charter schools is that, “many of them aren’t that good” as though you somehow addresses that criticism. You didn’t look at most charter schools. You only looked at the ones with a history of success. Yes half of charter schools perform better than public schools. If we put certain filters on the data we accept (like having a network of 4 schools) we can make sure that we narrow our focus to only look at the top half of charter schools. In those cases, the picture looks good. This is one of the most common charter propaganda tricks. “Look at the good charters, they are better than the public schools.” Yes, half are better, but the other half are WORSE. The only research that looks at all charter schools vs. all public schools across the country is the CREDO study which found no evidence of charters out performing publics.
    I would say a far more common criticism of charter schools is that they don’t enroll the same types of students as nearby public schools. Even the charter school policy center in NYC has admitted this much. This makes your “study” even more dubious.

    This kind of quasi research, intended to mislead, confuse and get people to support charters, is what I would expect from someone who makes most of his money from charter school consulting gigs.

  3. Earline

    I personally think charter schools are effective. I have two nieces that attended charter schools from 6th to 12th grade. They both graduated with honors. I wish Alabama would implement charter schools.

  4. jeffrey miller

    Thanks, Earline. I have a friend with a son who went to the lowest performing school in the city and is now attending Harvard. Thus, public inner-city schools are the best. Trust me, Alabama doesn’t want charters. Not that they would do Alabama much good, anyway…someday, folks may find out that a leading cause of terrible schools is poverty plus a lack of funding tied up with poor respect for smart people and teachers.

  5. David KC

    If we put certain filters on the data we accept (like having a network of 4 schools) we can make sure that we narrow our focus to only look at the top half of charter schools.

  6. Fannie Choi

    This kind of quasi research, intended to mislead, confuse and get people to support charters, is what I would expect from someone who makes most of his money from charter school consulting gigs.

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