22 August 2016

Charter School Fail

In a bit of news that should surprise no one, it turns out that charter school students do slightly worse later in life than public school students:
Charter school boosters have many arguments in favor of fostering a publicly-financed, privately run parallel education system. But at the end of the day, their model should help kids learn more, perform better, get good jobs and earn a higher salary than they might have otherwise, right?

By that metric, it appears that Texas' charter schools have failed, according to a large-scale study of kids from the K-12 system through early adulthood.

The analysis was conducted by Will Dobbie, an assistant professor at Princeton, and Roland Fryer, the Harvard economist who in recent years helped Houston ISD adopt charter school methods (you might also remember his name from research on Houston's police-involved shootings). It uses data from Texas state agencies that tracks student achievement and demographics from primary school, through college, and on to the labor market.

Texas is the ideal laboratory for this kind of study. It introduced charter schools way back in 1995, and they now enroll 3.5 percent of the public school population. The schools have thus had time to refine their methods and work out some kinks, while their students have had time to test their mettle in the labor market.

< The findings: On average, charter schools have no meaningful effect on test scores or employment, and actually have a slight negative impact on earnings. The results are slightly better for so-called "no excuses" charters, which feature stricter discipline and extended instructional hours -- they increased test scores and four-year college enrollment and had no effect on earnings. Regular charter schools boosted two-year college enrollment, but depressed test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings.
The idea behind charter schools has always been that unleashing the market on education will create amazing result.

It has been about as effective as the idea of "Unleashing Chiang" (Kai Shek) on the communists in mainland China was.

You can read the full study here.


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