Re­port: Stu­dents in state’s char­ter schools and pub­lic schools learn at sim­i­lar rates

The Olympian - - Local - BY DAHLIA BAZZAZ The Seat­tle Times

In a re­port re­leased last week, re­searchers from Stan­ford Univer­sity took on a ques­tion that Wash­ing­ton’s state au­di­tors could not:

What kind of aca­demic im­pact do the state’s char­ter schools have on their stu­dents?

Their an­swer, after study­ing three school years’ worth of data: Over­all, char­ter-school stu­dents’ scores on state math and read­ing ex­ams grew at a sim­i­lar pace com­pared to their peers en­rolled in tra­di­tional pub­lic schools.

That find­ing was true for al­most all stu­dent ra­cial and de­mo­graphic groups, with English learn­ers be­ing the no­table ex­cep­tion. Stu­dents learn­ing English who were en­rolled in char­ter schools per­formed con­sid­er­ably bet­ter. Com­pared to English learn­ers in tra­di­tional pub­lic schools, the re­port found they gained the equiv­a­lent of 83 more days of in­struc­tion in both read­ing and math. For that, the re­port had no ex­pla­na­tion.

“Noth­ing in the data that we crunch gives us any un­der­stand­ing of what is ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing in­side the schools,” said Macke Ray­mond, di­rec­tor of Stan­ford’s Cen­ter for Re­search on Ed­u­ca­tion Out­comes (also known as CREDO), the group be­hind the re­port.

Char­ter schools in Wash­ing­ton state are pub­licly funded, but pri­vately run. Char­ter-school op­po­nents in Wash­ing­ton and be­yond claim the schools take money away from tra­di­tional pub­lic schools – as both re­ceive fund­ing from the state based on their en­roll­ment – and aren’t di­rectly ac­count­able to vot­ers be­cause they are not con­trolled by elected school boards.

The study is the first in-depth anal­y­sis of stu­dent per­for­mance at the state’s young char­ter­school net­work, which gained more stable le­gal foot­ing from a state Supreme Court rul­ing in late 2018.

The re­searchers also used a method called “vir­tual con­trol record,” in which they an­a­lyzed and com­pared a lit­tle more than 1,000 char­ter-school stu­dents with how their vir­tual aca­demic and de­mo­graphic “twin” in a tra­di­tional pub­lic school would have per­formed on state as­sess­ments.

The re­sults of the com­par­isons are lim­ited by a few fac­tors, in­clud­ing the short his­tory of char­ter schools here, and the de­mo­graph­ics of char­ters schools, which gen­er­ally en­roll a larger share of non­white stu­dents.

Even so, Ray­mond says the mea­sure­ments pro­vide an im­por­tant bench­mark

for com­par­ing re­sults – and mea­sur­ing progress – in the fu­ture.

For ex­am­ple: The re­searchers found ev­i­dence that black stu­dents en­rolled in char­ter schools saw sim­i­lar growth in read­ing and math as white stu­dents in tra­di­tional pub­lic schools. (There was a small, but sta­tis­ti­cally in­signif­i­cant gap in read­ing.)

By con­trast, within tra­di­tional pub­lic schools, black stu­dents “ex­hibit 71 fewer days of learn­ing in read­ing and 59 fewer days of learn­ing in math” than their white peers, ac­cord­ing to the study.

The re­sults also showed vari­a­tion be­tween char­ter schools, with some sig­nif­i­cantly out­per­form­ing their lo­cal school op­tions – by mar­gins higher than the na­tional av­er­age – and oth­ers fall­ing be­hind.

Char­ter-school stu­dents in the Seat­tle area had the high­est one-year gains in learn­ing com­pared to their coun­ter­parts, beat­ing out Ta­coma and Spokane, two other hubs for char­ters in the state.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.