CREDO Boston

Dear Friends In NYC, SF, Chicago, DC, NOLA, and Denver charter schools.... We love you. We really do. But we gotta talk about this new Stanford study:

Students in Boston's charter schools gained 12 months of additional learning per year in reading and 13 months of additional learning in math compared with their regular public school counterparts.

"The average growth rate of Boston charter students in math and reading is the largest CREDO has seen in any city or state thus far," Edward Cremata, a research associate and co-author of the Massachusetts study, said in a press release. The study examined performance data for grades 3 to 8 and 10.

Eighty-three percent of charter schools in Boston significantly outperformed their regular public school counterparts, and none of the charter schools performed significantly worse than the regular district schools.

Using the same methodology:

Charter school students in New York City learned the equivalent of a month of additional instruction in reading than their traditional public school counterparts.

1. Congrats to the Boston kids working hard and learning stuff. And also to the teachers who help get them achieve.

2. Nobody here is taking a victory lap. I doubt many folks working in local charters even know about the study. Everyone is just grinding away with the normal stuff, trying to get a little better every day, sometimes succeeding, sometimes stumbling.

3. Big picture, think of the CREDO national studies which use the same methodology: the average USA charter is not so hot.

4. Whatever the stories of the charter skeptics -- that high-scoring charters can't be because teachers are succeeding, but instead it's all a matter of peer effect, attrition, test prep, etc -- one would think that critique doesn't apply to charter on charter comparisons, like this one.

I.e., can everyone agree that there's a reasonable question of why Boston charters outperform Philly charters, Newark charters, DC charters, other Massachusetts charters? (And outperform Boston pilots too, which have nearly identical demographics.)

Here is one hint.

Let's pose "the far more important task of trying to explain the wide variation in measured charter performance in terms of concrete policies and practices, which can inform all schools, regardless of their governance structures."

5. I've heard the following sentence twice in my (admittedly sheltered) life: "The gains for kids were so unbelievably high, we had to delay releasing the study and recheck our math."

One was Harvard's Tom Kane describing the 2009 Boston charter and pilot study. The second (I'm told) was the Stanford folks with their 2013 Boston charter story.