New Mathematica Study: Charter schools no better than regular public schools (again)

You can read the entire study for your self here. or at
A couple of quotations from the executive summary:

On average, study charter schools did not have a statistically significant impact on student achievement. Although students admitted to charter middle schools through lotteries scored lower on state reading and math assessments (by 0.06 to 0.07 standard deviations in Year 2—the second year after the lottery) than students who applied but were not admitted (lottery losers), these differences were not statistically significant after adjusting for multiple treatment-control comparisons; thus these findings may be false discoveries …

• Study charter schools positively affected parent and student satisfaction with and perceptions of school. Lottery winners and their parents were significantly more satisfied with their schools than lottery losers according to all 11 measures of student and parent satisfaction and perceptions examined by the study, after adjustment for multiple hypothesis testing. For instance, lottery winners were 13 percentage points more likely to report they “like school a lot” than lottery losers (Figure 3). Similarly, the parents of lottery winners were 33 percentage points more likely to rate their child’s school as “excellent” than parents of lottery losers.

So, to paraphrase, even though students generally do slightly worse at the charter schools, there is something that the charter schools ARE doing that makes parents much happier. I think that the public schools need to figure out what that “something” is, and to do something about it.

Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 11:20 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. what is it that this study is trying to show us. it not that clear to me.


  2. This study was trying to see what were the differences in outcomes between students who applied to charter schools and got in – on the one hand – and students who applied to charter schools and DID NOT get in, on the other hand. And since the application process to the charter schools is by lottery, that is to say, it’s random, then any differences between the two groups should be significant.
    What the results showed were, in brief, that on the average, there is no significant difference in educational or behavioral outcomes between students who got into charter schools, after either 1 or 2 years. However, the students who DID get into a charter school FELT better about their school.
    Is that clearer?


  3. It may be that the satisfaction among parents and students is in some part due to the “psychological” effect of getting their first school choice (having “won the lottery”). But it seems unlikely that this would explain a large proportion of the effect.

    For now, the supplemental parent survey results may provide some clue as to what practices generate this satisfaction (page 57) – for example, lottery “winners” and charter attenders were called by the school more frequently and reported a better “disciplinary environment” (all differences were significant at any conventional level).


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