Charter-Schools: no statistically significant effects on middle school youths


What is the study about?

Charter-School Management Organizations: Diverse Strategies and Diverse Student Impacts examined the effect of non-profit charter-school management organizations (CMOs) on middle school academic achievement, rates of high school graduation, and post-secondary enrollment. Within eight geographically diverse states, the authors matched each charter school student with similar students attending conventional public schools. The sample included nearly 14,000 students attending 68 middle schools operated by 22 CMOs and nearly 3,000 students who attended 13 high schools operated by six CMOs.

What did the study report?

The study reported that, on average, there were no statistically significant effects of attending a CMO-operated school on state assessments in math, reading, science, or social studies among middle school youth. There were also no statistically significant impacts on high school graduation and college enrollment rates. The study reported substantial variation in both the magnitude and level of statistical significance of the impacts across the participating CMOs.

How does the WWC rate this study?

The study is not a randomized controlled trial and, therefore, cannot receive the highest rating of meets WWC evidence standards. It used a quasi-experimental design, established that CMO and non-CMO students were similar on measured characteristics such as baseline test scores and demographics, and controlled for baseline characteristics of students in the analysis. A more thorough review (forthcoming) will confirm whether the study meets WWC evidence standards with reservations.

Furgeson, J., Gill, B., Haimson, J., Killewald, A., McCullough, M., Nichols-Barrer, I., Teh, B.-r., Verbitsky-Savitz, N., Bowen, M., Demeritt, A., Hill, P., & Lake, R. (2012). Charter-school management organizations: Diverse strategies and diverse student impacts. Report prepared by Mathematica Policy Research and the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research. Retrieved from

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