School Choice & Charters

Conflicting Studies

May 03, 2000 3 min read

Nearly 1,700 charter schools are now operating in the United States, and the movement to create more of them enjoys widespread support. But so far, policymakers looking for proof that such schools can best the traditional public school system at improving student academic performance would find a patchwork quilt of conflicting evidence.

The following are highlights from the results of seven recent studies:

Michigan | Colorado | Los Angeles
Arizona | Michigan | Minnesota | Mulitple States
MICHIGAN

Study sample: 51 Michigan charter schools from October 1997 to December 1998

Evaluator: The Evaluation Center of Western Michigan University

Date published: January 1999

Findings: The charter schools as a group had significantly lower scores on state standardized tests than their host districts. The schools also had lower gains in test scores than traditional public schools in their districts.

COLORADO

Study sample: 51 Colorado charter schools that had been open for at least two years by the start of the 1998-99 school year

Evaluator: Colorado Department of Education

Date published: January 2000

Findings: The performance of charter schools as a whole on state standardized tests was stronger than state averages. The charter schools also outperformed sponsoring school districts and other public schools when comparing students of the same socioeconomic backgrounds.

LOS ANGELES

Study sample:Five charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, close to their charter- renewal dates.

Evaluator: WestEd and the University of Southern California

Date published: June 1998

Findings: Overall, students in the five schools maintained or slightly improved their performance on standardized tests over time in comparison with a group of noncharter schools in the district.

ARIZONA

Study sample: 82 Arizona Charter Schools in 1997 and 1998.

Evaluator: Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University

Date published: March 1999

Findings: The standardized-test scores of students who attended charter schools for two years increased about the same amount as the scores of students in regular public schools. By middle school, however, the students who had attended charter schools for a year or more began to lag behind their counterparts in regular schools. In high school, the gap was even more dramatic.

MICHIGAN

Study sample: 55 charter schools in nine Michigan counties over the 1997-98 school year

Evaluator: Public Sector Consultants Inc. and Maximus Inc.

Date published: February 1999

Findings: The percentage of charter school students scoring “satisfactory” on standardized tests was lower than at a majority of local traditional public schools. But the rate of improvement in test scores was greater for charter school students than for students at comparable public schools.

MINNESOTA

Study Sample: 16 Minnesota charter schools

Evaluator: The College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota

Date published: May 1998

Findings: Results were mixed. In six of eight charter schools reporting reading and math test scores in 1997, more than half of the students scored below the national average. When 1997 results of state tests from seven charter schools were compared with the results of the surrounding districts, five of the seven reported higher percentages of students passing the reading test, and three reported higher passing rates in math.

MULTIPLE STATES

Study sample: 31 charter schools in eight states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas.

Evaluator: Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota

Date published: March 1998

Findings: Twenty-one charter schools, or 68 percent of the study’s sample, had administered at least two rounds of the same standardized test and “appeared to be making academic gains.” The study drew no general conclusions about how those gains compared with those of regular public schools.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 03, 2000 edition of Education Week as Conflicting Studies

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Measuring & Supporting Student Well-Being: A Researcher and District Leader Roundtable
Students’ social-emotional well-being matters. The positive and negative emotions students feel are essential characteristics of their psychology, indicators of their well-being, and mediators of their success in school and life. Supportive relationships with peers, school
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Making Digital Literacy a Priority: An Administrator’s Perspective
Join us as we delve into the efforts of our panelists and their initiatives to make digital skills a “must have” for their district. We’ll discuss with district leadership how they have kept digital literacy
Content provided by Learning.com
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How Schools Can Implement Safe In-Person Learning
In order for in-person schooling to resume, it will be necessary to instill a sense of confidence that it is safe to return. BD is hosting a virtual panel discussing the benefits of asymptomatic screening
Content provided by BD

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Oklahoma Charter Schools Granted Local Tax Revenue in 'Seismic' Settlement
A groundbreaking settlement will fundamentally change the way charter schools are funded in Oklahoma, despite vehement opposition.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
This July 19, 2019 photo shows an Epic Charter Schools office in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted Thursday in favor of an agreement with the state's public charter school association to settle a 2017 lawsuit.
This July 19, 2019 photo shows an Epic Charter Schools office in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted Thursday in favor of an agreement with the state's public charter school association to settle a 2017 lawsuit.
Sue Ogrocki/AP
School Choice & Charters COVID-19 May Energize Push for School Choice in States. Where That Leads Is Unclear
The pandemic is driving legislators' interest in mechanisms like education savings accounts, but the growth may not be straightforward.
8 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her Condition of the State address before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature on Jan. 12 at the statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her Condition of the State address to state lawmakers on Jan. 12. She's pushing a major school choice expansion.
Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP
School Choice & Charters Letter to the Editor Are NOLA Charters a Mixed Bag?
To the Editor:
The opinion essay by Douglas N. Harris about how New Orleans’ education reforms post-Katrina are relevant to the COVID-19 era (“As Schools Recover After COVID-19, Look to New Orleans,” Sept. 30, 2020) highlights some basic improvements in the NOLA system but downplays the most significant aspects of those changes: the impact on people of color.
1 min read
School Choice & Charters Home Schooling Is Way Up With COVID-19. Will It Last?
The shift could have lasting effects on both public schools and the home-schooling movement.
BRIC ARCHIVE
RyanJLane/E+