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A Pretty Good Sales Pitch For MA Charter Schools

March 1, 2013

In a follow-up to their initial 2009 report on the Bay State, CREDO has released its latest Charter School Performance Report on Massachusetts, a six year study that analyzes the effectiveness of Massachusetts’s charter schools and in particular, their performance in the Boston area.

The report was largely positive on both math and reading tests, notably when comparing Boston charter schools to their public school counterparts. When analyzing just Beantown charters, the report found that 83 percent had significantly positive learning gains in both reading and math and no city charters were performing lower than the local public schools. That’s a pretty good sales pitch for charter schools in Massachusetts.

For a little more background on CER’s long history with CREDO and our concerns with their methodology, which they use in this report, here’s a link to help you out: a little intro to CREDO.

NYC Charter Achievement Positive Across Multiple Studies

February 20, 2013

The latest CREDO report looks at New York City charter school achievement and finds generally positive results.

CREDO research on other cities and states, like the Michigan report released in January, has generally yielded positive results. But perhaps more interesting is the fact that NYC CREDO findings are in line with work done by other researchers studying New York City charter schools. Check out the studies below for more on charter schools in the Big Apple:

How NYC Charter Schools Affect Achievement:
This study done by Caroline M. Hoxby employs quality charter school research methodology and finds that NYC charter school students will learn more over time than those students who remain in conventional public schools.

The State of the NYC Charter School Sector:
This report from the New York City Charter School Center gives an in-depth look into the city’s charter schools data, demographics and achievement, and indicates that charter schools continue to be a viable alternative for parents looking to better their children’s education in the Big Apple.

And for those of you scratching your head as to why you’ve heard the acronym CREDO before, it may have been because of a controversial and widely cited national report from 2009. Here’s some background to help you out: All About CREDO.

Charter Criticism Based on Fact or Fiction?

February 6, 2013

“It is hard to believe that year-after-year, smart, well-intentioned researchers believe they can make national conclusions about charter school performance using uneven data, flawed definitions of poverty and ignoring variations in state charter school laws,” said Jeanne Allen president of The Center for Education Reform (CER).

Yes, CREDO is at it again, using the same virtual twin methods that came under fire in their 2009 report.

In a Wall Street Journal Opinion video, David Feith breaks down — in less than 3 minutes — problems with the numbers in the latest CREDO report, as well as problems with how the report is being interpreted.

Here They Go Again…

I read with some interest and a lot of frustration this Washington Post article, taking as gospel the findings of a flawed study conducted by The National Education Policy Center (NEPC). The study “found” K12 Inc. lags behind traditional public schools.

Once again we have good reporters getting snookered by “research” based on un-comparable data and lacking any value-added measurement of performance progress over time.

By any reasonable standard, reputable research needs to be based on an apples to apples comparison of subjects. The NEPC methodology makes no effort to compensate for the fact that the basic nature of virtual schools like K12 makes it difficult to compare their students to those in traditional public schools. Consequently, it ends up comparing apples to watermelons.

The NEPC report also cites a 2009 CREDO study that is one of the most egregious examples of bad research out there. CER has successfully debunked it time after time and yet the media continues to trot out that Trojan horse for some reason.

Where does madness end? When is the media going to learn to recognize good research from bad?

–Jeanne Allen, Founder and President of the Center for Education Reform

For K12 Inc.’s perspective, check out the Spotlight section on their website.

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Too much credit

sneechesEven when research studies come from prestigious universities like Stanford, they can be flawed. That’s the case with data cited in “The $5 billion bet on education,” Al Hunt’s recent New York Times commentary about the Obama Administration’s education agenda and its reliance on less bureaucratic, more accountable public schools known as charters.

A small research unit at Stanford (not the university itself) piloted a methodology pairing virtual twins in charters with students in traditional public education, producing results at odds with most state and national assessments that show far better results. And the longer students are in charters, the better they do.

Obama’s Race to the Top would not be complete without such reforms, but Hunt errors in giving credit to states that have done little to create strong laws that allow for high numbers of high performing charter schools to flourish. The real test will be whether, when state legislators return to work, they will be willing to allow charters to start outside of school board control, free from union contracts and other constraints and funded equitably.

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