Sunday LeftoversFebruary 3, 2013
NJSBA Goes to WashingtonFebruary 4, 2013
There’s a new CREDO report (Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes) on how to identify high-performing charter schools and encourage their expansion. You can download either the Executive Summary or the full report here, ), but here’s a few highlights:
- Charter schools don’t tend to improve much over time. If a school is struggling in its first year or two, it’s unlikely to duplicate the success of high-performing charter schools. “Based on the evidence, there appears to be no structural ‘new school’ phenomenon of wobbly performance for several years.”
- This holds true for all schools, but especially for middle and high schools; i.e., if they’re not getting it right from the get-go, then odds of turnarounds are not high. “Substantial improvement over time is largely absent from middle schools, multi-level schools and high schools. Only elementary schools show an upward pattern of growth if they start out in the lower two quintiles.”
- Charter Management Organizations (CMO’s), or groups of three or more charters run under one management, have a higher degree of success with minority and poor kids. “They produce stronger academic gains for students of color and student in poverty than those students would have realized either in traditional public schools (TPS) or in many categories what would have learned in independent charter schools.”
One big take-away: a charter school’s first year is indicative of its long-term performance, and kids do better with historically-successful CMO’s. There’s little justification for not closing down a poorly-performing charter after the first couple of years.
Question: If any school — charter or otherwise — is performing poorly under its current structure and management organization, how much is it likely to improve? That’s, after all, the strategy behind both a piece of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation and a bigger piece of NJ’s new initiative, our Regional Achievement Centers, which will impose turn-around strategies on historically failing schools. (In fact, that’s the essence of NJ’s waiver from NCLB.) Can CREDO’s conclusions — that there’s not much upside in turn-arounds but greater upside from outright closures and reliance on organizations with strong track records of performance — be applied to traditional public schools? Where’s the data on that?