Opinion
School Choice & Charters Letter to the Editor

Improving Research on Charters

April 09, 2019 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

A new analysis by the Education Week Research Center finds “charter high schools … make up an outsized share of the number of public schools persistently graduating less than half of their students” (“In Many Charter High Schools, Graduation Odds Are Slim,” February 27, 2019). The authors question why charter high school graduation rates lag behind other public schools.

Unfortunately, the study represents a big step backwards in the quality of research on charter schools. It compares graduation rates in charter schools, which are concentrated in underserved urban areas, with schools nationwide—including those in more affluent neighborhoods, suburbs, and towns.

Students attending the charter schools in the analysis might actually be more likely to graduate than if they attended an assigned neighborhood school. The analysis can’t see this because it does not compare apples with apples.

For a charter school, the valid comparisons are with the district-run schools from which charter students are drawn, with the charter students’ own achievement level before entering the school being studied, or best, with students who applied to but lost in charter school admissions lotteries.

A comprehensive review by the University of Arkansas found six studies from the past decade that employed these methods. Three showed charter school students were more likely to graduate high school. Five showed they had greater chances of enrolling in college. The rest showed neutral or mixed effects. None showed negative results for charter schools. These results are very different from what Education Week reported and illustrate the importance of making the right comparison.

That said, one of the new report’s conclusions is rock solid. Graduation rates of schools, both charter and district-run, that serve high concentrations of low-income, black, and Hispanic children are far too low. But, studies that falsely paint charter high schools as failures because they serve students most in need point in the wrong direction.

Paul T. Hill

Founder

Center on Reinventing Public Education

Research Professor

University of Washington Bothell

Bothell, Wash.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 10, 2019 edition of Education Week as Improving Research on Charters


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
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
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

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 Virtual Charters in Hot Water Again. Accusations of Fraud Prompt $150M Lawsuit
Indiana officials seek to recoup more than $150 million they say was either wrongly obtained or misspent by a consortium of virtual schools.
Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star
2 min read
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis. Rokita filed a lawsuit against a group of online charter schools accused of defrauding the state out of millions of dollars Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings/AP
School Choice & Charters How the Pandemic Helped Fuel the Private School Choice Movement
State lawmakers got a new talking point as they pushed to create and expand programs to send students to private schools.
8 min read
Collage showing two boys in classroom during pandemic wearing masks with cropped photo of feet and arrows going in different directions.
Collage by Gina Tomko/EducationWeek (Images: Getty)
School Choice & Charters Opinion Taking Stock After 30 Years of Charter Schools
Rick Hess speaks with Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on charter schools turning 30.
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters In Fight Over Millions of Dollars for Charter Schools, a Marijuana Tax May Bring Peace
The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind a polarizing lawsuit settlement, pending certain stipulations.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
Money bills cash funds close up Getty
Getty