A new study by an Ohio think tank suggests that pupils in magnet and charter schools across that state start out kindergarten with stronger academic skills than their peers in regular public schools.
Researchers from Policy Matters Ohio, an economics-oriented think tank with offices in Cleveland and Columbus, analyzed scores from kindergarten-readiness exams taken by students in seven urban districts: Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown. They found that entering charter school students scored, on average, 10 percent higher than students in the schools they otherwise would have attended.
The average scores for magnet students were 18 percent higher than those for the neighborhood “default” schools. Lead author Piet Van Lier said the differences suggest that families of charter school students may be more engaged in their children’s education from the beginning than those of students in the traditional public schools in those districts.
Given recent research that shows Ohio charter students performing at or below the levels of students enrolled in district schools, the report concludes, both state and federal policymakers need to take another look at their reliance on charters as the solution to the challenges we face in educating children in struggling communities.
A version of this article appeared in the October 21, 2009 edition of Education Week as Ohio Charters