Students in independent charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District significantly outperform similar students in traditional schools in the district, according to a report released last week by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. The gains were particularly large for schools serving low-income Hispanic students.

CREDO translated the statistical results of academic achievement between similar district and charter school students, as measured by standard deviations, into additional learning days. Charter school students showed significant gains in reading and math in all grades, but middle school math showed the biggest gain, the equivalent of 122 extra days of learning, about two-thirds of a year. Source: CREDO's "Charter School Performance in Los Angeles Unified."

CREDO translated the statistical results of academic achievement between similar students in Los Angeles Unified district and charter schools, as measured by standard deviations, into additional learning days. Charter school students showed significant gains in reading and math in all grades, but middle school math showed the biggest gain, the equivalent of 158 extra days of learning, nearly a full year. Source: CREDO’s “Charter School Performance in Los Angeles Unified.”

Los Angeles charter schools also far outpace charter schools nationally, according to CREDO, which published an extensive national comparison last year. In Los Angeles, 48 percent of charter schools had significantly larger gains in reading and 44 percent did much better in math than traditional school counterparts,  while 13 percent did significantly worse in reading and 22 percent did worse in math. Nationwide, 25 percent of charters did significantly better and 19 percent did significantly worse than similar traditional public schools in reading; in math 29 percent did better but 31 percent of charters did worse.

“The results in Los Angeles are among the strongest observed in any of the previous CREDO studies,” the report said.

Los Angeles Unified had 195 independent charter schools serving 82,000 of the district’s 670,000 students in 2010-11, making it the largest charter authorizer in California and one of the largest in the nation. Charters served slightly fewer low-income students (70 percent vs 75 percent in the district), English learners (21 percent vs 29 percent) and special education students (7 percent versus 11 percent) but more African-American students (15 percent vs 9 percent) and white students (14 percent vs 8 percent).

CREDO said it factored these differences into its calculations in matching records of charter and traditional school students. It then roughly translated the growth in standardized test scores into what it called equivalent “days of learning gain,” which it defined as how much more learning, based on a 180-day year, those scores reflected. Its conclusion: “On average, charter students in Los Angeles gain an additional 50 days of learning in reading and an additional 79 days of learning in math over their traditional public school counterparts.”

Among Los Angeles’ charters, those run by charter management organizations such as Aspire and Alliance of College Ready Public Schools did the best: 65 additional learning days in reading and 122 days in math, about double and triple the gains of non-affiliated charters in reading and math, respectively.

Low-income charter school students in Los Angeles gained 14 more days of learning in reading and 43 more days of learning in math compared with their peers in traditional public schools. Gains for low-income Hispanic students were the largest: 58 days in reading and 115 days in math.

The release of CREDO’s report came the same week that Los Angeles Unified’s Board of Education modified Superintendent John Deasy’s contract to deter him from encouraging further growth of charters. It set a goal of an annual student enrollment growth of 5 percent – a target that can only be achieved by reversing a decade-long growth in charter schools.

But in a statement Friday, following the release of the CREDO report, Deasy said, “LAUSD is committed to providing a wide range of quality schools to meet the diverse educational needs of all students it has the privilege to serve.” He added, “Charter schools are invaluable partners and provide quality choices to parents among the District’s robust set of exceptional schools, thanks in large part to strong leadership by our Board of Education.”

 


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  1. Andrew 2 years ago2 years ago

    I suspect that LIFO is behind recent LA Charter School gains! LA conventional public schools used LIFO to dump thousands of eager newer highly qualified teachers in favor of any teachers with tenure and the region's Charter schools were eager to snap up the best of the castoffs. For the best of the pink slipped LA teachers, the Charters were any port in a storm. Charters are notorious for high teacher turnover, tend to treat … Read More

    I suspect that LIFO is behind recent LA Charter School gains!

    LA conventional public schools used LIFO to dump thousands of eager newer highly qualified teachers in favor of any teachers with tenure and the region’s Charter schools were eager to snap up the best of the castoffs.

    For the best of the pink slipped LA teachers, the Charters were any port in a storm. Charters are notorious for high teacher turnover, tend to treat teachers as throwaways, and cannot seem to grasp the sort of human resource understandings that characterize highly successful company employers. So it is probably just a matter of time before the castoffs make their way back into the conventional schools as the job market improves. Charter achievement will drop unless Charters find their way to teacher retention rates that demonstrate high teacher satisfaction rather than just rationalizing the high turnover.

  2. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    Charters are a largely urban phenomenon and the enrollment percentage of minorities is much larger than with TPSs. Apples to apples comparisons are difficult all the way around.

    Replies

    • Educator 2 years ago2 years ago

      Yes the charters are more prominent in urban settings. But policy makers compare those urban charters to traditional urban schools, and then claim they're better. I'd like to believe them, IF there weren't enrollment tricks like the ones in that brief I cite above: http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2013/05/tcr-dirty-dozen Or stories like this as I cite above: http://www.splcenter.org/access-denied/special-education-in-new-orleans-public-schools OR, maybe it's OK for charters to have these enrollment tricks or deny access to certain hard to educate students. I'd just like it … Read More

      Yes the charters are more prominent in urban settings. But policy makers compare those urban charters to traditional urban schools, and then claim they’re better.

      I’d like to believe them, IF there weren’t enrollment tricks like the ones in that brief I cite above:
      http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2013/05/tcr-dirty-dozen

      Or stories like this as I cite above:
      http://www.splcenter.org/access-denied/special-education-in-new-orleans-public-schools

      OR, maybe it’s OK for charters to have these enrollment tricks or deny access to certain hard to educate students. I’d just like it to be more honest.

  3. Fred 2 years ago2 years ago

    It’s interesting, one of our elected representatives up here in Norcal, Joan Buchanan, when asked about the effectiveness of Charters told us in January that “there is no study that proves Charter Schools outperform public schools,” and furthermore, “a study done by Stanford showed no better academic performance at Charters.” Her information appears to be dated and I hope someone straightens her out on her facts.

    Replies

    • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

      CREDO did do a well-known nationwide study that showed no better academic performance at charters (despite the fact that CREDO is a pro-privatization, pro-free-market project*). This study is of Los Angeles. There are many asterisks on any comparison of charters to public schools because there are so many confounding factors.

      *Margaret “Macke” Raymond of CREDO had the integrity to report that study anyway. There was some angry pushback from her own colleagues in the privatization movement.

  4. Educator 2 years ago2 years ago

    Does this study account for enrollment tricks like: http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2013/05/tcr-dirty-dozen "Charter schools may be public, but they can shape their student enrollment in surprising ways. This is done though a dozen different practices that often decrease the likelihood of students enrolling with a disfavored set of characteristics, such as students with special needs, those with low test scores, English learners, or students in poverty." I'm really asking, I'm not trying to be undermining these results. I just want … Read More

    Does this study account for enrollment tricks like:
    http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2013/05/tcr-dirty-dozen

    “Charter schools may be public, but they can shape their student enrollment in surprising ways. This is done though a dozen different practices that often decrease the likelihood of students enrolling with a disfavored set of characteristics, such as students with special needs, those with low test scores, English learners, or students in poverty.”

    I’m really asking, I’m not trying to be undermining these results. I just want to make sure the phrase “significantly outperform similar students in traditional schools in the district” actually is an apples to apples comparison. Technically, I don’t think it’s ever possible to do true apples-apples student comparisons, because by virtue of the action of enrolling and choosing a charter, usually by winning a lottery, that already self selects out a certain population. Am I mistaken?

    Replies

    • el 2 years ago2 years ago

      Even charter schools that intend to be completely open and honorable in their enrollment practices are affected by self-selectors like parents who thought enough about school to consider choosing a different school and parents who are willing and able to drive their kids to school. We also don't think much about peer effects - how it's probably even more important who else is a student in your class than the teacher at the front of the … Read More

      Even charter schools that intend to be completely open and honorable in their enrollment practices are affected by self-selectors like parents who thought enough about school to consider choosing a different school and parents who are willing and able to drive their kids to school.

      We also don’t think much about peer effects – how it’s probably even more important who else is a student in your class than the teacher at the front of the room. A class full of kids on task and excited about learning can raise an indifferent learner; a class full of disruptive and dismissive kids can discourage even the most avid student. It would be interesting to see what happens if those “value-add” measures that are sometimes applied to teachers are applied to fellow students.

      I think it’s great to see good results – obviously some of the kids in those schools are thriving, and that’s great regardless of the statistics.

      (I find the use of “additional days of learning” to be misleading when translated out to laypeople or if considered on its literal basis. Among other things, it suggests that all kids learn at the same rate or even that individual kids learn at a uniform rate, and it has a pejorative connotation that kids in certain classrooms are sitting around doing nothing for weeks at a time, which I suspect is not what you’d see if you visited.)

      However, I think the unstated conclusion that if ALL kids in LAUSD were in those schools that they’d get those same better results is probably not warranted.

      If we find that these results are more about shuffling kids around to adjust peer groups and maximize potential (which they may or may not be), then doing so certainly could have value.

      • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

        Re the having value mentioned in your last paragraph: or not. I see this study as an indication of exactly that shuffling. But since the measure is about comparisons, harming the TPS environment would also explain these ‘results’. That’s not ‘having value’ in my eyes.

        • el 2 years ago2 years ago

          I agree, if shuffling students causes harm to those left behind, it’s not okay. If shuffling students has a negligible effect on those left behind but improves outcomes for those who move, then I’m all for it. I think gifted magnets, for example, can be a very positive example of that, because often gifted kids end up isolated with no peers and without appropriate opportunities when dissolved in a regular school population.

      • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

        Supposedly the comparison students matched on academic performance before transferring to a charter school. So if student quality was a factor that quality difference was not evident by performance in the TPS.

        • Educator 2 years ago2 years ago

          A thought experiment might be to turn an entire system into charters to settle this. Isn't New Orleans the closest city in the nation to achieving this? But I know that the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a suit on behalf of special education students. http://www.splcenter.org/access-denied/special-education-in-new-orleans-public-schools I'm not here to drag down charters, really. I just want to know what the pros/cons and asterisks are in all these statements. A lot of us … Read More

          A thought experiment might be to turn an entire system into charters to settle this. Isn’t New Orleans the closest city in the nation to achieving this? But I know that the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a suit on behalf of special education students.

          http://www.splcenter.org/access-denied/special-education-in-new-orleans-public-schools

          I’m not here to drag down charters, really. I just want to know what the pros/cons and asterisks are in all these statements. A lot of us know the problems with traditional systems.

          • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

            New Orleans still has a set of non-charter schools and is widely viewed as a two-tiered system. There have been attempts to turn entire districts over to charter operators -- one that was widely publicized at the time was turning the entire Inkster, Mich., school district over to then-hailed for-profit Edison Schools in about 2001. It fizzled, but the failure tends to go unmentioned in the public conversation, in contrast to the previous hype. "Reform" critics such … Read More

            New Orleans still has a set of non-charter schools and is widely viewed as a two-tiered system.

            There have been attempts to turn entire districts over to charter operators — one that was widely publicized at the time was turning the entire Inkster, Mich., school district over to then-hailed for-profit Edison Schools in about 2001. It fizzled, but the failure tends to go unmentioned in the public conversation, in contrast to the previous hype.

            “Reform” critics such as Diane Ravitch have challenged high-profile charter operators such as KIPP to take over a whole district and all its students. KIPP once tried to take over an existing school and all its students, in Colorado, but rapidly pulled out of the school. Its selectivity is key to its success.

            • Floyd Thursby 2 years ago2 years ago

              Have you ever seen a system without LIFO you didn't trash Caroline? Do you not respect what Geoffrey Canada has done? These kids are poor and have no hope, he's not selecting them, it's a lottery. Did you see 'The Lottery'? You need parents to agree to change their home life and care, but they are hardly selective, the kids are in public housing. Michelle Rhee took over a district … Read More

              Have you ever seen a system without LIFO you didn’t trash Caroline? Do you not respect what Geoffrey Canada has done? These kids are poor and have no hope, he’s not selecting them, it’s a lottery. Did you see ‘The Lottery’? You need parents to agree to change their home life and care, but they are hardly selective, the kids are in public housing. Michelle Rhee took over a district and was having great success and the union ruined it in favor of the status quo. DC is still in the dumps, they had lofty talk when she left but have made no progress. Geoffrey Canada teaches kids they can thrive, tries to give them a hopeful attitude and work ethic. We need to work on parental involvement and drive. It’s clear many immigrant groups thrive and we need to get all to do so. You see this in SF, Caroline, while many parents who in elementary school loudly proclaim tiger parenting is bad and you need balance to thrive quietly make an excuse when high school comes along and their kids didn’t get into Lowell and the harder working kids did. One talked about how great it would be to get chocolate every day at Ghirardelli Square. It’s endemic, we aren’t recognizing obvious truths, bad teachers hurt and bad parenting or even average parenting can’t compete with good teachers who are passionate and parents who drive their chlldren.

            • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

              Rhee DID NOT have great success. Did you not read about the cheating scandal during her tenure? Even if Rhee had nothing to do with cultivating a garden of cheating, it happened under her watch and those scores definitely cannot be trusted. If we account for the schools that have cheating and questionable growth due to significant erasures, it is clear that Rhee saw slower growth than Janney (the previous chancellor). In fact, Rhee has … Read More

              Rhee DID NOT have great success. Did you not read about the cheating scandal during her tenure? Even if Rhee had nothing to do with cultivating a garden of cheating, it happened under her watch and those scores definitely cannot be trusted. If we account for the schools that have cheating and questionable growth due to significant erasures, it is clear that Rhee saw slower growth than Janney (the previous chancellor). In fact, Rhee has the worst growth out of the past three chancellors.

              Floyd seems to care more about firing teachers than he does about students actually learning.

            • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

              Geoffrey Canada famously threw out an entire grade’s students at one of his schools — you could hardly BE more selective.

            • Floyd Thursby 2 years ago2 years ago

              Do you think any profession will work to their maximum potential if under 2 of 600,000 are fired annually, 19 in 10 years, for performance, and 91 total, or 9 a year? It's not just teachers. I think any profession with those rules would end up with some mediocre and awful members. Teaching is too important to allow this. I think every profession should have maybe 20% not make it through … Read More

              Do you think any profession will work to their maximum potential if under 2 of 600,000 are fired annually, 19 in 10 years, for performance, and 91 total, or 9 a year? It’s not just teachers. I think any profession with those rules would end up with some mediocre and awful members. Teaching is too important to allow this. I think every profession should have maybe 20% not make it through a career, so all work their best. I think it’s human nature to know what you can get away with, and teachers are no exception to the rule. In fact, I don’t believe there is an exception to the rule, period.

            • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

              The rate of teachers removed from teaching and/or classrooms is not accurately reflected by the numbers you cite.

            • el 2 years ago2 years ago

              A GOOD and well supported school system NEVER NEEDS to use LIFO because it NEVER lays staff off unless there is a decreased need for a particular service... in which case the provider of that particular service is laid off. LIFO is a tourniquet when you're out in the bush two hundred miles from the nearest hospital and you're bleeding out. (In this case, money rather than blood.) That it is on the books for such circumstances … Read More

              A GOOD and well supported school system NEVER NEEDS to use LIFO because it NEVER lays staff off unless there is a decreased need for a particular service… in which case the provider of that particular service is laid off.

              LIFO is a tourniquet when you’re out in the bush two hundred miles from the nearest hospital and you’re bleeding out. (In this case, money rather than blood.)

              That it is on the books for such circumstances does not mean it could or should be or is used every day… just as your well-behaved child is not threatened by clauses in the law that allow for suspension and expulsion.

        • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

          Few points to consider:

          Are you saying that all of the selected students learn all material at a uniform rate?

          Are some people more than others, due to parental involvement and self-drive, more likely to see consistent and accelerated learning growth?

          When students are around more positive peers and fewer disruptive students, are they more likely to see more positive learning growth?

  5. CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

    Don’t forget the disclosure! CREDO is a project of the Hoover Institution, which exists to promote free-market policies and privatization. It isn’t an unbiased academic source.

    CREDO’s website doesn’t mention that, but Hoover’s does.

    http://media.hoover.org/fellows/10088

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