Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Guskey Weighs in on Charters

Pretty much says what we've said....

This from the Herald-Leader:

Charter schools should not have unfair advantage
...Allowing charter schools would certainly enhance the state's application for Race to the Top funds. The federal government believes that giving parents the option of enrolling their children in a charter school may serve to increase educational quality and accountability.

But certain influential education organizations in Kentucky don't want charter schools because they fear charter schools will detract from the viability of our public school systems.

As an educational researcher, I have read much of the research on charter schools. From what I can determine, the findings are inconclusive at best. Some studies say charter schools work, while others suggest they offer little or no advantage.

Unfortunately, the quality of most of these studies is not very good. The majority have significant methodological flaws that challenge the validity of their results.

The most we can say at this point is that we really don't know whether charter schools are necessarily good or bad. No strong evidence shows students learn better in charter schools than they would if enrolled in regular public schools. But no confirming data shows that charter schools harm students or public school systems either.

The real issue comes down to the policies set for launching charter schools.

Guskey suggests two rules for charters in Kentucky:
  1. Charters must accept any child who wants to enroll.
  2. Charters have to keep that child and will be held accountable for his or her learning progress, no matter what.

Guskey says these rules would level the playing field and that any school can look good if allowed selective admissions or if allowed to "counsel out" students who don't fit.

That is why saying charter schools work for students who stay for three years has little significance if all those students not doing well were "encouraged" to leave.


Richard Innes said...

I hear a lot from charter opponents about charter schools encouraging low-performing students to leave, but I have not seen any data on this. Do you know of any?

Richard Day said...

I've seen a couple over the years...that I don't recall right now. Most recently there was this one:

I'd have to dig to come up with the others.

It seems to me that the biggest indicator may well be human nature. In a high-stakes environment folks will (almost) always figure out ways to improve their data (under the belief that better data is synonomous with better student achievement).

Throughout the history of schooling there is one question that abides: Who is it that receives an adequate edudcation? There have always been winners and losers when it came to getting a good education. Kentucky's current effort to assure an adequate education for every child is less than 20 years old and is unprecedented historically. This is the highest standard to which a school system can aspire - one that provides excellence and equity. We have a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

JCPS traditional and magnet schools get rid of kids all the time that they don't want. Those kids have to go back to their "home school" if they don't make the grades, attendance, or behavior. Or the other trick is that "home schools" can accept certain kids on "hardship transfer" (aka athletes) but if they end up being thugs then they are shipped back to their "real home school". All high schools who accept students should have to make a commitement to graduate that student no matter what. It is too easy for principals to badger and torment kids they don't want, back them into corners that cause the kids to make bad behavior decisions and get shipped out or drop out.