An analysis released in today’s Education Gadfly finds that new charter schools in disadvantaged communities are almost four times as likely to reach above-average rates of student achievement as the closest district school. This raises serious questions about the wisdom of the federal government pumping $3 billion into school turnaround efforts instead of using some of the money to replicate and scale up successful charter models.
However, the finding comes with several big caveats. First, because of the small sample size, the results cannot be deemed statistically significant. And second, it’s impossible to know whether “selection effects” played a role–whether the new charter schools performed better because they attracted better students.
The analysis was by David Stuit, a Vanderbilt PhD. who authored a previous Fordham study on school turnarounds last December.