Education, Race

Charter school effects on achievement, integration and competition

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Last updated: October 29, 2009

charter school (iStock)

Since the first charter school opened in the late 1980s, more than 4,000 have been established. The charter school movement is not without its critics, of course, and some argue that an approach that works in one area may bring about different results in another.

A 2009 RAND Corporation study, “Charter Schools in Eight States: Effects on Achievement, Attainment Integration and Competition,” looks at data from more than 600 charter schools.

The study’s findings include:

  • Reading and math performance showed insignificant changes in five jurisdictions and small decreases in two.
  • Charter high schools’ rates of graduation and college matriculation improved in the two jurisdictions with data.
  • There was no evidence that average public-school student achievement increased or decreased in response to establishment of charter schools; that charter schools skimmed high-achieving students from public schools; or that charter schools led to increased racial or ethnic stratification.

Tags: charter schools, Hispanic, Latino, race, African-American

Writer: | October 29, 2009

Citation: Zimmer, Ron; et al. "Charter Schools in Eight States, Effects on Achievement, Attainment, Integration, and Competition", Rand paperback, 2009

Analysis assignments

Read the RAND Corporation study titled "Charter Schools in Eight States: Effects on Achievement, Attainment, Integration and Competition."

  1. Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
  2. Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
  3. Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)

Read the issue-related New York Times article titled "Study Shows Better Scores for Charter School Students."

  1. If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the RAND Corporation study, what key changes would you make?

Newswriting assignments

  1. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
  2. Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
  3. Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
  4. Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.

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