"Informing the Debate," is a new study that finds that charter schools in
As Eduwonkette points out, only one quarter of
Nevertheless, this looks to me a good study, though it doesn't begin to analyze why these particular
1- Class Size -- an examination of the descriptions of a random selection of the charter schools included in the study, either from reports by the Massachusetts state education dept. or self-reported by the school itself, shows that classes tend to be much smaller in these schools than in the regular BPS system, and in some schools, as small as 15 (as in the Boston Collegiate Charter School). In most, classes are about 18-22 students; while the regular BPS system has class sizes ranging from 25-28. In fact, many of the charter schools studied openly proclaim that their small classes are critical to their success. In general, it is easier for charter schools to reduce class size because they are able to cap enrollment, unlike traditional public schools.
2- Peer effects. Though the study finds that the randomly selected students who attend charter schools do better than those who remained in the BPS system, it also states that "Charter Schools ... serve a smaller proportion of special education students, free- and reduced-price lunch students, and English learners than do the traditional BPS schools. In addition, high school Charter students tend to come in with substantially better math and ELA performance on the MCAS..."
So to the degree that the "winners" of the lottery would tend to surrounded by higher performing and more advantaged students, this in itself could boost their achievement levels.
Tom Kane , one of the authors of this study, has been quoted as saying that "The next step is to identify what's working in charter schools that can be transferred back into the traditional public schools to improve student achievement." Let's hope they manage to achieve this. I am aware of few such studies that have honestly attempted to do this in the past.