Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Study Shows NO Improvement in NYC Charters Over Public Schools

During an interview, Doug Henwood mentions a new report just out from the National Bureau of Economic Researchers that studied the effectiveness of NYC charter schools in comparison to regular public schools. He says that they show almost NO improvement (math=.09 and reading.04).

To hear this program you have to click on the link below and scroll down to the "Behind the News, Thursday, April 16, 2009 5:00 pm, Public Affairs" program. The Deborah Meier section starts at 9:35 into the program.

I still don't accept results based on high stakes tests even if they come up proving something that appears to be a good result. Actually, I would expect charters to do better because of the self-sorting nature of the lottery process. Of course, I can't make heads or tales of the stat mumbo jumbo below.

The report is at

Charter Schools in New York City:
Who Enrolls and How They Affect Their Students' Achievement

Caroline M. Hoxby, Sonali Murarka

NBER Working Paper No. 14852
Issued in April 2009
NBER Program(s): CH ED LS PE TWP
---- Abstract -----

We analyze all but a few of the 47 charter schools operating in New York City in 2005-06. The schools tend locate in disadvantaged neighborhoods and serve students who are substantially poorer than the average public school student in New York City. The schools also attract black applicants to an unusual degree, not only relative to New York City but also relative to the traditional public schools from which they draw. The vast majority of applicants are admitted in lotteries that the schools hold when oversubscribed, and the vast majority of the lotteries are balanced. By balanced, we mean that we cannot reject the hypothesis that there are no differences in the observable characteristics of lotteried-in and lotteried-out students. Using the lotteries to form an intention-to-treat variable, we instrument for actual enrollment and compute the charter schools' average treatment-on-the-treated effects on achievement. These are 0.09 standard deviations per year of treatment in math and 0.04 standard deviations per year in reading. We estimate correlations between charter schools' policies and their effects on achievement. The policy with the most notable and robust association is a long school year--as long as 220 days in the charter schools.

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