There’s plenty of sobering news in Fordham’s new report, Are Bad Schools Immortal? The Scarcity of Turnarounds and Shutdowns in Both Charter and District Sectors. (Merry Christmas!) But perhaps the most depressing is this: even low-performing charter schools, which have all the right incentives to improve, and few of the constraints that might get in the way, rarely manage to do so.
In the study, David Stuit examined low-performing schools in ten states from 2003-04 to 2008-09. A sizable number of those schools were charters. One might figure that, if the charter model was working as intended, these charters would either improve or go out of business. Yet 72 percent of the charter schools remained bad–and remained open–five years later. (Another 19 percent were shuttered–better than the 11 percent in the district sector, but still not great.) Just nine percent improved enough to climb out of the bottom quartile of performance (as measured by proficiency rates) in their respective states.