The Opinion Telegraph reports:
Charter schools are supported by public funds and may not charge fees. Public authorities pay them a cash amount per pupil, usually lower then the average cost of local state schools….
One of the most authoritative studies has been carried out by academics from Harvard University and Columbia Business School. They looked at charter schools in Chicago, where school places are allocated by lottery when a school is over-subscribed. The study compared the achievements of pupils selected by lottery with those who were not (and who, consequently, attended local state schools). This method has the advantage of eliminating the ”selection” effect that statisticians worry about….
More than half of the pupils studied were enrolled at schools under the aegis of the Chicago International Charter School, whose students were mainly black or Hispanic and most of whom received free or subsidised lunches. A second study compared 99 per cent of charter school pupils in the 4th grade (age nine to 10) in charter schools throughout America, some 50,000 pupils.
Charter schools were compared with schools that shared the same neighbourhood, economic conditions and population of parents and pupils. It is fair to conclude that charter schools are compared with the schools that pupils would have gone to if the charter school were not there. The results were that charter school pupils were 5.2 per cent more proficient in reading and 3.2 per cent more in maths, after deducting charter schools that catered for ”at-risk” or gifted pupils.
Charter schools were especially likely to raise the achievement of pupils who were poor or Hispanic. In mainly Hispanic areas the advantage was 7.6 per cent in reading and 4.1 per cent in maths, whereas in a typical charter school the advantage was 4.2 per cent in reading and 2.1 per cent in maths. In high-poverty areas the advantage was 6.5 per cent in reading, compared with 2.6 per cent for other charter schools.
Egalitarians think that school diversity and competition will benefit children who already do well, but these results show that it is the least advantaged who gain. A pluralistic system that drives up standards by permitting energetic new entrants to shake up the existing schools benefits the poorest people most.
The full article can be found here. The last point is also worth repeating, “A pluralistic system that drives up standards by permitting energetic new entrants to shake up the existing schools benefits the poorest people most”.