I wanted to pass along a report on the progress made by students attending schools run by Los Angeles charter provider Green Dot. The study has the virtue of comparing these students with what sounds like a pretty comparable control group.
From today’s Education Week Update:
The study, conducted by researchers at UCLA’s National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, known as CRESST, compared Locke students entering 9th grade against demographically similar students from the same set of feeder middle schools who ended up attending different high schools. Two cohorts of students, one of them entering the Locke schools in 2007 and another, larger group entering in 2008, were compared against against peers in other schools.
Green Dot students in the first cohort outperformed the comparison groups in persistence through high school and college-readiness rates—as judged by their completion of a set of courses used in California public university admissions—as well as in other areas of academic performance, albeit in a more scattered way.
But students in the second cohort had a much stronger showing, significantly outperforming their counterparts on a number of state test score measures, as well as in remaining in high school over time, and in taking and passing challenging courses, in subjects such as Algebra 1.
The results for the second cohort of Locke High School students are particularly significant, given that those teenagers were more fully exposed to the Green Dot academic model over time, said Joan L. Herman, who led the study team as director of the research center at UCLA.
The article continues (I’m quoting at such length because the full article may not be available to non-subscribers):
One of the main criticisms of charter schools is the suspicion that some of them screen students and select those who are easier to educate, and that they push out the students they don’t want over time, essentially leaving them a population that is more likely to succeed.
But the UCLA researchers found that the Green Dot schools at Locke that they studied had a positive impact on student achievement while serving a student population that was both similar to what existed at the school prior to its transformation, and similar to the control group of nearby schools they studied.
“There is no issue with cherry-picking or selecting kids,” Herman said. “Kids are persisting more in [the Locke family of schools], and they have more kids staying in school.”
Plenty of charter schools have experienced significant problems. But it does strike me that some charter school providers – I’m also thinking of the KIPP schools, for example – have managed to find ways to get past the burdens of poverty, beat the odds, and help kids succeed.