A new paper from the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, authored by Beth Schueler and Joshua Bleiberg and titled “The Education Exchange: Does State Takeover of School Districts Affect Student Achievement?,” examines the impact of state takeovers on student achievement in school districts throughout the nation. By and large they don’t work: the analysts point to Jersey City as example where “we find no evidence that takeover generates academic benefits.”
However there are a couple of exceptions. One of those exceptions is Camden, New Jersey.
In the screenshot below, taken from the paper, you can see the effect of takeovers on student proficiency levels in English Language Arts (ELA, or reading) and math. (If you can’t see it, look at page 182 of the Journal.) Students in districts at the top of each chart (East St. Louis, for example) actually lost ground. But for students in districts at the bottom, where academic growth crosses over to the right of the red line, takeovers worked.
In ELA, Camden students demonstrated the fifth highest growth of the takeovers studied. In math, student growth was the tenth highest.
The analysts also note that in Newark, NJ’s largest school district, “shifting enrollment from low-performing traditional public schools to higher-performing charter schools improved student outcomes.” Anti-charter folk like Newark Superintendent Roger Leon and Acting Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan should take note.