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New Study Shows Mixed Results in Charter Comparison

A new Stanford study comparing the performance of traditional public schools and charters comes to largely the same conclusion reached in a 2009 survey by the same group. While acknowledging some growth in charter achievement over the last four years, the study answers the question “Are charter schools better than traditional schools?” width “Yes,” “No” and “It depends.”

Improving on results from four years ago, about a quarter to a third of charters outperformed local district schools in reading and math, while at the same time 19% performed “significantly worse” in reading and 31% performed “significantly worse” in math.

It’s often difficult to meaningfully compare charter school results to traditional schools because of the vast array of both types of schools, and factors like parental involvement that may give some charter students an edge. On the other hand, a well-run traditional school may have an advantage over a fly-by-night or exploitative charter operation that isn’t bound by the same rules and accountability as its public counterpart.

The latest study confirms that a well-run charter width a committed staff and a sound program is a viable educational opportunity for many students, but also that short-sighted “shut down the school and replace it width a charter” solutions promoted by so-called reform groups are more concerned width labels rather than the actual substance of what makes a successful school.

CTA represents many charter school workers and over the years we have found that the best charters are those that treat their teachers as professionals, and provide pay and benefit packages that keep their schools from becoming revolving doors for teaching staffs. Other charter operators who see public education as a money-making venture and who “stack ‘em deep and teach ‘em cheap,” or who see teachers as cogs in a one-size-fits-all machine, undermine the potential of charter schools as a creative and viable alternative to the traditional public school model.

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