Volume 20, Number 6
Telling Tales Out of Charter School
What educators and policymakers can learn from the successes and failures of charters
Most followers of education reform can remember their typically quiet summers being interrupted last August by a front-page story in the New York Times. The story suggested that charter schools, heralded by many as havens of free choice and innovative practice, might actually be doing worse than traditionally organized public schools. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) analysis found that fourth-grade students in charter schools performed about half a grade behind those in regular public schools, and that these differences held true even for low-income students and students in central cities. The study provoked a rash of point/counterpoint exchanges among charter school advocates and opponents. Yet, according to Gary J. Miron, principal research associate for the Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University, looking at the average performance of charter schools and their students tells only a small part of the story.This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.