Saturday, October 09, 2010

Charter School Students

There are at least three types of people who choose charter schools:

1. Students who are motivated to seek academic success, but who aren't satisfied with the low quality of their traditional public school, and who seek out perceived better quality elsewhere.

2. Students who just want something different and more to their tastes -- an arts-based or science-based curriculum, or a smaller school, or joining a good friend, or any number of other things.

3. Students who just aren't doing very well or who are falling into the wrong crowd, and whose parents think that maybe their child will somehow improve somewhere else.

If the question is whether charter school performance is better than traditional public school performance, students from category 1 would be a charter school advantage, category 2 would probably be neutral, and category 3 would be a charter school DISadvantage.

I don't know why some people (such as Diane Ravitch) act as if all or most charter school students are in category 1. There's zero evidence for that. To the contrary, a RAND study last year found that in most locations nationwide, charter school students are entering with the same or lower test scores than their peers. This suggests to me that those students on average probably aren't coming from highly motivated successful families -- or if they are, the supposed benefits of motivation aren't that powerful after all (not powerful enough to make their test scores higher than their public school peers).


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Review of my book

The current (Oct. 4) issue of National Review has a review of my book on pages 44 and 46. Not available online, though.