Two new studies* on charter schools out this week, both worth checking out.
From CRPE a thorough overview of charter management organizations or “cmos” (except performance, which is coming next year) with data. Its a terrific roll-up of original data on some key dimensions. I wish they dug deeper on costs and revenue (eg one-time costs v. operating costs and more on the impact of the chronic underfunding of charters on this issue) but overall it’s outstanding and a good resource. Interesting takeaway, more than 1/3 of cmos are hitting their growth and scale targets. That means 2/3rds aren’t, natch, but I didn’t realize it was that high given the various constraints – that’s a set worth looking at more closely.
From Mathematica via IES, a look at charter middle schools (pdf). The top line finding is not surprising: Overall charters and traditional public schools roughly the same. But, this one raises some interesting implications around pedagogy, curriculum, and measures because charters serving low-income students outperform while those serving high-income students underperform. Relevant context here is the recent KIPP study. Also some findings on within school elements.
Both studies reinforce how little explanatory leverage charter v. non-charter offers these days and why looking within the charter sector with some nuance offers lessons and cautions for educators and policymakers.
Prediction: Little impact on the politics around the issue, which are driven by other things.
*Disclosures all over the place on these: I am affiliated with CRPE and the National Charter School Research Project there. And I was involved in the process that set up that study in the first place. I also advised Mathematica on the release strategy for their study.