Charter schools on par

RAND Education released a 10 page occasional paper last month examining charter schools in California, the state with more charter schools than any other state. The paper discusses the effects of charter schools on traditional public education, evaluates the sometimes contentious issues surrounding the schools, and analyzes student performance and test scores over time. The RAND summary states:
  • charter school students are keeping pace with comparable students in traditional public schools.
  • minority students are performing no better in charter than in traditional classrooms.
  • competition from charters...[do not] improve the performance of traditional public schools.
  • charter schools have achieved comparable test score results with fewer public resources.
  • school level operations varied considerably between charter and traditional schools...[with] little effect on student achievement.
Though the analysis focused on California, the researchers found that within the state, charter school performance varies by charter type, suggesting performance will vary "as charter laws vary from state to state," and that it is important to study the differing environments, laws and designs to better understand charter schools and their role in school improvement.
It is important to examine under what local circumstances, governing laws, and instructional and educational designs charter schools are most likely to have positive effects on students who choose to attend these schools and on those who do not.
Making Sense of Charter Schools, Evidence from California
(available in pdf, 165KB, from RAND)

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