Charter-School Management Organizations coverIf CRPE’s recent meta-analysis of charter-school
was an amuse-bouche, this report (from Mathematica/CRPE) on the practices
and impacts of charter-management organizations (CMOs) acts as the entrée—and perhaps
also the dessert. It exhaustively details the characteristics of forty CMOs (of
the nation’s 130, which serve 17 percent of charter-school students), noting
some interesting commonalities: Compared to their district counterparts, CMOs
typically run smaller schools (with smaller classes). They also offer more time
in learning: Forty percent of studied CMOs provided their students with more
instructional time than all of the
nation’s traditional public schools. Completing the meal, the report analyzed
student-achievement results for those CMOs with adequate data. Echoing previous
charter research, the report finds that CMO performance varies—and widely. Of
the twenty-two networks analyzed, eleven boast significantly positive impacts
in math, while ten can make that claim in reading—this compared to a representative
control group of district pupils. (Seven negatively impact their students in
math, six in reading.) Why do some CMOs do so well while others flounder?
Researchers note two reasons for success: intense teacher coaching and school-wide
behavior standards (notably those that offered consistent rewards and sanctions
and asked for parent and student contracts). Unfortunately, the authors stop
there. No after-dinner coffee or digestif. Because of promises of
confidentiality, the report names neither the high flyers nor the
low performers. Interesting data, yes, but not much help to school shoppers or
communities seeking effective CMO’s to run more of their schools. Though a
palatable and hearty meal, the report could have used that added bit to settle
the reader’s stomach.

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Click to listen to commentary on this CRPE/Mathematica study from the Education Gadfly Show podcast.


Melissa Bowen, et al., Charter-School
Management Organizations: Diverse Strategies and Diverse Student Impacts

(Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research; Seattle, WA: Center on Reinventing
Public Education, 2011).

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