Thursday, July 24, 2014

Study: N.C. charters get better results for less money

Students in N.C. charter schools earned higher reading and math scores in 2011 than their counterparts in traditional public schools,  while the charter schools got less money for doing it,  according to a new study from the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform.

The latest study,  "The Productivity of Public Charter Schools,"  piggybacks on an April report that compared per-pupil spending on charters and other public schools.  It compares scores on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress eighth-grade reading and math exams for the two groups and links those to spending.

The report,  which looks at all states that had charter schools in 2011,  shows that N.C. charter school students averaged 13 points higher in reading and nine points higher in math than students in N.C. school districts.  Meanwhile,  charter schools averaged $8,277 per charter student compared with $9,999 per district student.  The study does a lot of other number-crunching but that's the gist:  Higher scores for less money.

Skeptics may assume that's because charter schools are working with the students who tend to score higher.  But according to this study,  the N.C. charter schools averaged slightly higher percentages of low-income and disabled students than public schools across the state.

Of course,  there are plenty of caveats to consider,  and the 43-page report explores many of them.  This is one year's performance  (a year that precedes North Carolina's charter school expansion)  for one grade level.  As the study notes,  those students may have experienced a mix of charter and traditional public schooling  (and,  for that matter,  private and home-schooling),  all of which contributes to eighth-grade scores. The report uses that data to extrapolate a  "return on investment"  based on lifetime earnings.  I'm skeptical of that technique,  which is used to turn small data points into huge savings by any number of educational groups,  including traditional public schools.

The researchers note that the overall analysis leads to one clear national finding:  "Charter schools tend to exhibit more productivity than traditional public schools."

You can bet that will come up as North Carolina debates how to balance its investment in various forms of public education.

Baker
Update: A reader steered me to a University of Colorado National Education Policy Center review of the April report on charter inequities. Reviewer Bruce Baker of Rutgers University says the University of Arkansas study  "displays complete lack of understanding of intergovernmental fiscal relationships."  For instance,  he writes,  money that is passed through school districts for distribution to charters is counted as school district revenue in per-pupil calculations  (CMS passed through about $23 million in 2013).

"In addition, the report suffers from alarmingly vague documentation regarding data sources and methodologies, and it constructs entirely inappropriate comparisons of student population characteristics,"  Baker writes.  "Simply put, the findings and conclusions of the study
are not valid or useful."

As some of you have noted,  and as I pointed out in the post about the April report,  the University of Arkansas research is part of the university's School Choice Demonstration Project,  which is funded by the Walton Family Foundation.

Read more here: http://obsyourschools.blogspot.com/search?q=+university+arkansas+charter#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://obsyourschools.blogspot.com/2014/05/report-nc-charter-schools-dont-get-fair.html#storylink=cpy

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

"the N.C. charter schools averaged slightly higher percentages of low-income and disabled students than public schools across the state." It was never about the money. It's about the atmosphere in the home environment. Does the parent stress the value of a good education? Does the parent ensure the child arrives at the school prepared for another school day? Does the parent ensure the child is doing their homework, practicing what they have covered in class, reading each day, and spending less time on electronics? There are good teachers and some that are less so. But ultimately, the education received is predominantly dependent upon what the student puts into it. And they usually get that motivation, or lack thereof, from home.

Pamela Grundy said...

Interesting to see that the lead author holds the "Endowed 21st Century Chair in School Choice." Smells like Walton Foundation money to me.

Anonymous said...

You can almost feel the agony Ann is suffering to have to print these words.

The busiest phones in Charlotte the next couple of days will be those from the CMS bureaucracy calling the Observer offices.

It won't be pretty.

Anonymous said...

I would hope so. They screen their applicants, and if they do not measure up, send them back to public school. How about some honest reporting?

Anonymous said...

Publics get 9999. per student while Charters only get 8277. per student with much better performance? This is a joke, right? Why don all students get the same amount? Socioeconomics is irrelevant. Fair is fair.

They got it all backwards. Typical socialism.

Even it out to 9138. per student. This is only fair. Charters can pay their teachers that difference.

Maybe teachers in Charters could make 100,000 a year like low level administrators using the difference equality.

Reward higher not poor performance and it wont cost any more money this way.

Public or Charter students should all get equal without exception.

John said...

One factor not mentioned is that the parents of students in charter schools can reasonably be expected to be more engaged since they had to make the effort to get their kids into a charter school. Parental engagement is key to education!

Anonymous said...

Nothing to see here. Funded with cash from the Walton family/walmart group of people trying to destroy public education.

Mr. Yamo said...

From my experience as an educator and constant collaborator with colleagues from both public and private schools, I can truly say the difference here is disciplinary leverage and the ability for the school to guide a student without having the apathy or lack of learning culture in a school. In essence, the student either works or they can go somewhere else. This is something the public schools do not have, and having only one place, Turning Point Academy, is not a viable solution for the larger number of students who just don't care about learning and ruin it for the 95% that do.

Wiley Coyote said...

...charter schools averaged $8,277 per charter student compared with $9,999 per district student. The study does a lot of other number-crunching but that's the gist: Higher scores for less money.

The New Normal: Doing More with Less -- Secretary Arne Duncan's Remarks at the American Enterprise Institute - November 17, 2010

~ This New Normal is a reality. And it is a reality that everyone seeking to improve education must grapple with. Yet, there are productive and unproductive ways to meet this challenge of doing more with less.

~ A different strategy for increasing productivity is to improve efficiency by taking steps like deferring maintenance and construction projects, cutting bus routes, lowering the costs of textbooks and health care, improving energy use and efficiency in school buildings, and reducing central office personnel.

The district (Chicago) adopted a series of cost-cutting measures to minimize the impact of our cuts in the classroom, including reducing the central office budget by 12 percent--which kept 350 teachers in the classroom.

~ Doing more with less will likely require reshaping teacher compensation to do more to develop, support, and reward excellence and effectiveness, and less to pay people based on paper credentials.

Districts currently pay about $8 billion each year to teachers because they have masters' degrees, even though there is little evidence teachers with masters degrees improve student achievement more than other teachers--with the possible exception of teachers who earn masters in math and science.

http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/new-normal-doing-more-less-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-american-enterprise-institut

Anonymous said...

Sorry but there is one thing missed. I am a Math teacher in a public school and picked up five Charter school students this year. They all scored in my bottom quartile and all five where problems in the classroom. Let me return them to their Charter school like the Charter school is allowed and lets see how that affects my overall test scores.

Anonymous said...

Gee thanks - more ammo for the public school-hating politicians to further "punish" greedy teachers who have no control over walks through their classroom door. These were no better because teachers were lower paid. They were because they usually have parents who actually care- they go through the process to get them in a school where discipline is better and teachers can teach. The money has nothing to do with the scores. Stop saying that it does!

Wiley Coyote said...

Refute the findings Pam instead of throwing out liberal barbs against the Walton Foundation that also gives to liberal causes...

School choice makes your head explode doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Amazing what a little accountability will do, eh ADH?

Anonymous said...

They used to call it separate but equal. Apparently unseparate but unequal is the new norm and has been for yrs now.

What about unseparate but equal?

The so called oppressed always become the oppressor.

Anonymous said...

Flawed methodology with cherry-picked numbers. A blatant misrepresentation of data.

http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/ttruarkcharterfunding.pdf

Richard Bunce said...

The important point here is parent choice works and should be expanded to non government school systems.

Anonymous said...

8:00
I've been offered a position at a NC charter school that has one of the highest EOG and EOC scores in the state. They've been accused of "screening their applicants" too through a lottery process with a waiting list. I think common sense suggests that parents who are able to secure a coveted spot for their children are likely to be interested and engaged in their children's education. Also, if parents are unhappy with a charter school, they have other alternatives through their traditional public school system which is why it was repeatedly stressed to me during my interview that I'm expected to measure up with "few chinks in the amour" in order to remain employed. Charter school teachers aren't granted career status/tenure.

If I had to wager a bet, I'd bet that highly sought after magnet schools with waiting lists produce similar academic results. The magnet school I attended was considered a privilege to attend - not a God given right. This is why I question the proliferation of magnet schools in Charlotte that could easily be accused of "screening their applicants" too.

Unbeknownst to me, a professor at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst - my undergraduate alma matter - spearheaded the charter school movement. Massachusetts consistently outperforms every state on standardized tests.

Everything aside, I'm as skeptical as Pamela on anything reported through "foundations".

Stay tuned...

Alicia

Anonymous said...

Fraudulent is as fraudulent does.

http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/ttruarkcharterfunding.pdf

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia

The charter school idea in the United States was originated in 1974 by Ray Budde, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers, embraced the concept in 1988, when he called for the reform of the public schools by establishing "charter schools" or "schools of choice." Gloria Ladson-Billings called him "the first person to publicly propose charter schools". At the time, a few schools already existed that were not called charter schools but embodied some of their principles, such as H-B Woodlawn.

As originally conceived, the ideal model of a charter school was as a legally and financially autonomous public school (without tuition, religious affiliation, or selective student admissions) that would operate much like a private business—free from many state laws and district regulations, and accountable more for student outcomes rather than for processes or inputs (such as Carnegie Units and teacher certification requirements).

Minnesota was the first state to pass a charter school law in 1991. California was second, in 1992. As of 2013, 42 states and the District of Columbia have charter school laws.

As of 2012 an authorizer other than a local school board has granted over 60 percent of charters across the country. Between 2009 and 2012, the percent of charter schools implementing performance-based compensation increased from 19 percent to 37 percent, while the proportion that is unionized decreased from 12 percent to 7 percent. The most popular educational focus is college preparation (30 percent), while 8 percent focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Another 16 percent emphasize Core Knowledge. Blended Learning (6 percent) and Virtual/Online learning (2 percent) are in use. When compared to traditional public schools, charters serve a more disadvantaged student population, including more low-income and minority students. Sixty-one percent of charter schools serve a student population where over 60 percent qualify for the federal Free or Reduced Lunch Program. Charter schools receive an average 36 percent less revenue per student than traditional public schools, and receive no facilities funds. The number of charters providing a longer school day grew from 23 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2012.

Anonymous said...

amen Wiley, doing more with less. Gee, how did those kids learn in a one room schoolhouse?

Cut transportation, cut fancy programs, cut central office. That's about 50million right there to start.

Anonymous said...

I'd ask a few questions: How many of these schools have admissions applications, how many require compulsory parent participation, and how many have extended day programs?

This makes a great headline, but is not a true comparison between schools that can deploy their resources similarly. Normal schools cannot choose what children they accept.

Anonymous said...

What a concept! The private sector works better and more efficiently than government.

In other words teachers working for a living in charter schools do a better job cheaper than the fat cats at the ed shed sitting back in their million dollar offices with their hundred thousand dollar plus salaries smoking $10 cigars.

Someone said parents at charters are more engaged than parents at publics. There is a concept for the ages. Parents should be involved in their child's lives not use the school system and teachers as free day care.

I freely admit that it is the public's responsibility to educate children. It is not the public's responsibility to raise children. That is the parent's job. One that is too often ignored by both the government and irresponsible parents.

Anonymous said...

Of course some, not all, charter schools show better growth. Charter schools do not represent the total population of a school district. They do not provide transportation nor lunch; entire sub-groups of students are excluded. When you group only students who are on grade-level or above grade-level, those students will show more progress.

Who paid for this article? I would bet if you dug deep you would find a for-profit company supporting this "research."

Anonymous said...

@ 10:29 Bingo! We have a winner. Not an apples to apples comparison. To say charter schools are better is a fallacy. They're probably comparable and when factoring in all the relevant analysis points, you'd see little difference.

But hey, we can all kick the can right?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:57...I read and hear the comment all the time that charters screen & kick kids out, and yet I wonder what evidence you can prove that it is true?

Why is the very idea that personalization so threatening? Not every magnet is the right fit for every student, not every charter is the right either...both are a choice by the student's FAMILY.

Choice is not a bad thing! Neither is CMS, please stop casting stones at them as I don't think that helps...they do LOTS of great things too, but competition does bring about new opportunities (i.e. both charters and CMS have to offer the best programs to keep students and that is why you are seeing new offerings at both).

Everyone...please stop making this an us vs. them thing. Let's just have good discussion about what is best for student learning in the 21st century and do what is necessary to get that done. Strong schools=strong community.

Pamela Grundy said...

Mr. Coyote,

It would take far more time than I am willing to spend to address the many problems in the report, starting with the the lunacy of the use of sample-test-score-based ROI for schools.

Here's a question for you. How likely do you think it is that the person sitting in the Endowed 21st Century Chair for School Choice would produce a report that didn't make charters look good?

Anonymous said...

Anne - did the study take into account outside sources of funding? Charter schools get funding for operations, but not facilities, from the government. The difference is made up from other sources (parent donations, grants, etc.). Did the study account for this? There is no way our charter school could operate on the public funds alone.

Carl Collie said...

I agree with a lot of the posts made. I am a high school teacher in a North Carolina Charter School. I get really tired of hearing how charter schools "screen" applicants. That is just ignorant and uninformed. We do have an application process, but we do not "select" applicants based on any criteria, other than do we have an opening in their requested grade level. All names of applicants are put in a lottery and names are drawn in public. I will say that our scores are significantly higher than our county LEA high schools. I would like to say that it is because I and my colleagues are just better teachers, but that is probably not true. We have three types of students, but a majority fall into two groups, highly motivated students who the traditional public schools can't meet their needs. We also have a large population of students (and families) who could care less about their education and the Charter school is their last alternative. We do not have many students in the middle, because their families are satisfied with their local school district. Why all the attacks against my school? If you are happy with your school that is great, but don't attack me and families who are not. We are simply an alternative for people to choose, we are not the right fit for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Big deal if the study was done by the Walton Foundation. This is a typical response of people who hate education reform. Attack the messenger when you don't have a good argument to attack the message.

You don't need a major study to know that charter schools are a good thing. The good ones outshine their traditional school counterparts. The bad ones lose their charter and get shut down, unlike bad public schools that are allowed to fail and fail again in perpetuity.

Just look at what's happening in New York City. Would all of you charter school attackers applaud Bill de Blasio and his efforts to limit access to successful charter schools like the Success Academy?

Anonymous said...

Many children from our school district have received a slot in a charter school only to return a short time later because the charter school deemed the placement "not a good fit." Students will "fit" if they come with no learning difficulties, a higher socio-economic class, the right ethnicity, and no emotional or behavioral issues. As a NC public school, charter schools should not have the right to turn away students who may lower the institutions test scores.

Lake Lure said...

CMS magnet schools screen students more than charter schools do. We're all "paying" for the extra magnet school programs and magnet transportation costs. Wake up people.

It is nice to have choices, and I certainly don't disparage anyone looking for an alternative to CMS schools. That's their choice.

Carl Collie said...

The same way that the Public Education Unions, Activists and Politicians produced reports that say Charters are bad should not be taken seriously either. You don't judge the messenger, judge the study. In science there all kinds of research funded by interested parties, that does not make the research invalid. It is the same argument with the recent health care rulings. One ruling was said to be invalid because of activist judges who happened to have been appointed by Republican presidents. Why was the Democratic appointed judge who dissented not politically motivated? It seems we spend more time attacking the messengers and not honestly discussing the topic. I for one and happy to teach in a charter school. I have good and not so good students. I work with outstanding educators. I do with less and have worked in less than ideal facilities. I also do not have tenure, I work on a year to year contract so if I do not perform I may not be offered a contract the next year. I give up that security for the ability to be involved in my school's decision making and have the freedom to really teach, not work from a script that someone in the central office or state department felt was the way Physics should be taught.

Wiley Coyote said...

Pam,

No more than any liberal think tank putting out a report that slants any view they want to put forth.

We have two views of the study, one for, one against.

I've said 100 times on here that data can be massaged to fit ones point of view, regardless of what the data says.

This is the same as arguing whether private schools are better than public schools. The concensus is that there isn't much difference between the two.

It all boils down to parental decisions as to where the school is, what is offered, history of the school, test scores, environment, etc.

That's why parents should have choices; public, home school, private or charters and not the government telling you your child has to go to the school they say you child must attend.

Just be reminded the data/studies you put forth here carry as much weight as the ones you reject.

Where's that Bright Beginnings data Pam? Oh, we don't have any?

But by golly even though the concesus is it doesn't do sny good, you will say it works!

Pardon me if I don't take your word for it.

Wiley Coyote said...

Carl,

The liberal mind will not allow for any diversion from the status quo. The state must keep their thumb pressed on the heads of kids to keep the government education machine running.

Pamela Grundy said...

Somehow, I don't seem to be the one whose head is exploding.

Wiley Coyote said...

All the data suggests your head is constantly exploding. You do the usual and deny it.

Me? I'm doing my usual and laughing about it.

Anonymous said...

If you believe that report then you also believe Wylie Coyote actually works for a living as well!

Wiley Coyote said...

6:31...

Then the report is true!

Shamash said...

Alicia,

"A few chinks in the amour"?

Sounds like some kind of pornography for the politically incorrect.

Too busy packing to get into the fray.

Trying to do the best for our kids.

See y'all on the "other side" some day soon...

Anonymous said...

cms is an education factory. At least, like Carl says, the teachers at Charters aren't spoon fed the curriculum and actually know the subject they teach. I can't tell you how many teachers my children have had in MS and HS that don't know the subject matter and can't fill the 90 min block with meaningful content. Thankfully the students can bring their iphones and ipads to school now and fill the time with watching movies.

Anonymous said...

The title of this story could just as easily have been "South Charlotte schools score higher with less funding than others schools in CMS."

Anonymous said...

while this has been an interesting debate for me over the last several months, I have enjoyed debating back and forth about this very issue.

However, the truth for me is I don't need this report or any other report to show me what is best for my children with regards to their education. Whether a charter, private or traditional public school is better for your child is for you to decide. But make the decision based on your child's education, and not because you are a snob.


Take back our schools said...

Pam and Vilma are a never ending source of laughter in my household!

Anonymous said...

Shamash,

Lol. I think I meant armor. I'm in Quebec. Perhaps too much amour?

Any idea how Canadian students measure up?

Alicia

Wiley Coyote said...

From a few years ago...

The New York City Independent Budget Office, a nonpartisan agency, compared public funding of traditional public schools and charters. The analysis accounted for not only direct school funds but also for in-kind resources provided to charters by the city Education Department - for example, about two-thirds of Gotham’s charter schools are located in public facilities and pay little to no rent.

According to the budget office, charter schools receive fewer public dollars, directly or indirectly, than do public schools. The funding difference is negligible for charters that receive public space, about $305 a pupil. Charters that pay for their own facilities, however, receive about $3,017 less per student than traditional public schools.

That charter schools receive fewer public dollars only makes their success more notable. The findings in a recent study by Stanford University economist Caroline Hoxby remain unchallenged: Children attending New York City charter schools make dramatic academic improvements. Now, the Independent Budget Office report shows that these educational gains come at a lower public price tag.

I suppose the data used for this study is flawed as well, but I'm sure the parents of those kids in New York charter schools could care less.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever looked at the pay scale of Massachusetts teachers? They have some of the best public schools in the country.

Anonymous said...

I would bet, transportation alone is about 50mil.

Anonymous said...

I have had many castaways from charters. Usually they are behavior issues. Sometimes they have special needs. Experience is my proof.

Anonymous said...

If the answer is not on FOX news, he will not know it.

Anonymous said...

I believe this to be true. Instead of fighting, everyone should be working together. The partisan on both sides will not let that happen.

Anonymous said...

This is kinda like Obama doing a study on "Obama Care".

Anonymous said...

Your argument would leave me to believe that none of the studies should be trusted. Take them all with a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

I agree Wiley.. Well said...Sorry about the fox news comment earlier. I thought you were being bias.

Anonymous said...

have any of the people on this blog actually had a child in both a traditional public school and a charter school? Would be interesting to see what they think,of course if that parent could provide an honest/unbiased comparison.

Anonymous said...

Hhhmmmm. School bus rides are free. Let me translate. The per student cost after you take away transportation will be more for the charter schools.

Anonymous said...

Carl:

The act of screening at all cherry picks children for you. Otherwise, those children would be in neighborhood schools.

Wiley Coyote said...

9:24

And some of those neighborhood schools suck...