To the Editor:
While it’s gratifying to read the headline “Charters Show ‘Slow and Steady Progress,’ Multistate Study Finds” (Charters & Choice blog, edweek.org, June 25, 2013), it’s also a bit disconcerting since the study—from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO—is anything but charter-school-performance gospel.
We at the Center for Education Reform have been advocating for nearly two decades on behalf of substantive, structural change in K-12 education. We know that, like education itself, research can be complicated. Although the article cites “slow and steady progress,” we’re also skeptical about another flawed report that makes spurious comparisons of student achievement in charter schools across state lines.
We believe all schools, including charter schools, must be held accountable. The path to accountability must start with strong charter school laws and must be laid with gold-standard research. Such research uses randomized control trials to measure progress. Students deserve nothing less, in classrooms and in research.
The CREDO report, upon which the article is based, fails to use such methods. Rather it employs statistical gymnastics to compare student achievement in charter schools across state lines while adjusting data to ensure that all students “start” at the same level.
Highly criticized by leading researchers and economists for failing the test of good research, the CREDO results do not accurately convey the results of charters or other public schools. State-by-state and community-by-community analyses are the only true measures that offer validity for parents and policymakers.
The Center for Education Reform
A version of this article appeared in the August 07, 2013 edition of Education Week as Center for Education Reform ‘Skeptical’ of Charter Study