Kentucky Considers Adopting Charter Schools

Kentucky offers us a peek into the process of drafting bills to enable charter schools. billboard-63978_1280

It also helps us understand what is meant by granting greater flexibility to charter schools.  The Pritchard Committee report has side-by-side comparisons of which traditional public schools regulations would change for charters.

Options drawn from other states are presented but not an analysis of the pros and cons for each approach. For example, is it better to have fewer rather than more authorizers?  Are reports of charter vs. traditional public school achievement gains valid? We offer some sources that can enhance the understanding of these issues.The authorization process is key to charter quality. The track record of applicants for charters is not always reviewed. The lack of detailed business plans, background checks and fiscal management experience have led to a high rate of charter closures. Proper oversight is crucial to maintaining quality. Margaret Raymond, Director of the CREDO study, recently commented that in some states, charter applicants blatantly shop for an authorizer.

The Kentucky Pritchard Committee report includes data on charter achievement gains drawn from the 2013 CREDO study. The CREDO study matches TPS and charter students by initial achievement scores and demographic characteristics and compares their achievement gains. If you rank students by their initial level of achievement, greater gains in both math and reading in charters are found for only the bottom two percentiles. Students with above average initial achievement ranking may actually do worse in charter schools.

Achievement gains for charters are found primarily in urban areas of 11 of the 27 states included in the CREDO study. The quality of the charter school sector, moreover, is not due to improved schools but to an increased closure rate of bad charter schools.  Other achievement comparisons have different research strategies with different results. A critique of the studies by Education Justice Charter School Achievement: Hype vs Evidence is helpful to understand the validity issues.







Posted in Achievement, Authorization, Charter Schools, Kentucky, Research studies.

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