Charters in LA

CHARTERS IN LA….The California Charter Schools Association has released a study showing that charter schools in Los Angeles outperform city-run schools:

“It’s pretty significant that seven out of 10 charters actually outperform their most similarly matched district public school,” said Caprice Young, chief executive of the charter schools association, citing one finding in the report. She said the study was intended to answer the question parents are most likely to ask: How does their local charter school stack up against the nearest comparable regular schools?

….The study found that charters, on average, were improving their test scores at a faster clip than traditional schools. However, it also found a big difference in achievement between “mature” charters — at least 6 years old — and those more recently established. The older charters scored significantly higher, leading the association to call for patience in judging young charter schools.

There are at least a couple of huge caveats here. First, the study was done by a charter advocacy group. Second, trying to match up “comparable” schools is really, really hard. In fact, it’s close to impossible, especially with small sample sizes, so even if CCSA’s study is legit, its results still might be an artifact of differences in where the schools are located or in the specific ethnic makeups of their neighborhoods, rather than differences in teaching methods.

Still, it’s encouraging news if the results can be confirmed. Done properly, charter schools have the potential to be a good deal. If they can figure out a way to outperform LAUSD schools, more power to them.

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