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Charter Schools Are Failing — The Evidence is Mounting: Here's the Latest Findings

Charters are underperforming, many charter systems are mired in fraud, and charters won't tell us what they're doing
Photo by Steven Depolo.
Photo by Steven Depolo.
By PAUL BUCHHEIT
In early 2015 Stanford University's updated CREDO Report concluded that "urban charter schools in the aggregate provide significantly higher levels of annual growth in both math and reading compared to their TPS peers."

This single claim of success has a lot of people believing that charter schools really work. But there are good reasons to be skeptical. First of all, CREDO is funded and managed by reform advocates. It's part of the Hoover Institution, a conservative and pro-business think tank funded in part by the Walton Foundation, and in partnership with Pearson, a leading developer of standardized testing materials. CREDO director Margaret Raymond is pro-charter and a free-market advocate.

The 2015 CREDO study received much of its input, according to a Louisiana source, from the New Orleans Recovery School District and charter promoter New Schools for New Orleans, who together had "embarked on a bold, five-year journey to standardize, validate and export the New Orleans charter restart model...addressing the problem of failing schools by restarting them with schools operated by charter operators."

Regarding national findings, a review of the CREDO study by the National Education Policy Center questioned CREDO's statistical methods: for example, the study excluded public schools that do NOT send students to charters, thus "introducing a bias against the best urban public schools."

Charters Are Underperforming

The inadequacies of charter schools have been confirmed by other recent studies, one of them by CREDO itself, which found that in comparison to traditional public schools "students in Ohio charter schools perform worse in both reading and mathematics." Another recent CREDO study of California schools reached mixed results, with charters showing higher scores in reading but lower scores in math.

In a study of Chicago's public schools, the University of Minnesota Law School determined that "Sadly the charter schools, which on average score lower that the Chicago public schools, have not improved the Chicago school system, but perhaps made it even weaker."

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