Paul E. Peterson and Matthew M. Chingos
John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
When the RAND Corporation released its lukewarm evaluation of Philadelphia's school management experiment in February 2007, Paul Peterson responded with his own study. Now two years later, Peterson is joined by Matthew Chingos in a report that builds on those initial findings and compares student achievement in reading and math at for-profit, nonprofit, and district-managed schools (whose achievement remains below the district median) from 2001-2008. The new study yields similar findings: Philadelphia's for-profit providers are beating the competition by miles when it comes to student achievement. (For those who may not recall the background, seven years ago, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) arranged for 30 of the city's lowest performing schools to be taken over by for-profits and 16 by nonprofits.) RAND found that only district-managed schools made significant progress. Peterson and Chingos say otherwise. Accordingly to their analysis, not only do students learn "substantially more in reading and math if they attended a school under for-profit rather than one under nonprofit management," but they learned almost 60 percent more each year of the six years studied in a for-profit school than one under district management. The district, however, has been backing away from the whole outsourcing approach. Perhaps they should reconsider? You can find the Peterson-Chingos study here.