Harvard Study Gives Charter Schools High Marks in Reading

Yet another study indicates charter school students in America are outperforming their peers in traditional public schools.

The Harvard University study looked at nearly 100 percent of US charter schools students in elementary schools and compared them to students at the nearest regular public school. Overall, the charter school students were five to six percent more likely to be proficient in reading and math. Study author Dr. Caroline Hoxby says charter schools are improving substantially over time.

“Those differences increase as the charter school becomes more experienced,” Hoxby explains. “For instance, with a charter [school] that's only been in operation one or two years, the reading differences are about two-and-a-half percent. They're about five percent after five years — and after nine years, the reading differences are about 11 percent.”

Hoxby questions a pilot government study that finds fourth-graders in charter schools do as well in reading but worse in math than their peers in regular public schools. The study, released by the US Department of Education, was based on data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

According to Hoxby, there are two problems with the study, both of which are acknowledged by the study's authors. One problem, she says, is that the NAEP test is only taken by about three percent of American students.

“And because charter school students are only one-and-a-half percent of students in the United States, three percent of one-and-a-half percent is only four-one-hundredths [0.04] of one percent of students in the US,” she explains.

The result, she says, is too small a sampling. “It's just too small a group to figure out what's going on,” she adds. “In some states, [that is] like looking into only one classroom and finding out how the students are doing.”

Hoxby says in addition, the study also makes an unreasonable comparison between minority or disadvantaged charter school students and students in typical regular public schools. By contrast, she says, the Harvard study shows charter schools are doing an especially good job at educating poor, disadvantaged, and Hispanic families.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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