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November 02, 2009
In 2009, CREDO released an expansive study of charters that made big waves. It showed that, among the sixteen states studied, there was wide variation in charter quality: Lots of charters were doing well, but even more were underperforming their local district schools. Ever since, charter antagonists have gleefully cited this report to make all types of unflattering claims about chartering.
They should be less buoyant this week.
Four years after the first study’s release, CREDO is out with an update. It includes all of the previous participating states and a slate of new ones. In total, the states covered by the new report educate more than 95 percent of charter students nationwide.
Here are my big takeaways in no particular order:
All in all, the results are encouraging for charter supporters. It appears that the systemic elements of chartering are working as many predicted. In other words, chartering is a continuous improvement process for a system of schools: When you build a strategy around closing bad schools while enabling great ones to grow and promising new ones to start, you shift the quality distribution to the right year after year.
This, of course, requires both sound policies and smart practices, especially among authorizers. But if we keep at this with fidelity, we should see the charter sector continually improving. That means more great seats for kids in need.
This piece was updated on June 27, 2013, for the Education Gadfly Weekly.