Charter School Research: Separating Fact & Fiction

Researchers describe the evidence on key charter school 
issues as part of their review of a recent think tank report

Contact: 
William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Gary Miron, garmiron@gmail.com
Kevin G Welner, (303) 492-8370, welner@colorado.edu

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/nq59k4v
 

BOULDER, CO (February 23, 2015) – A new analysis from the National Education Policy Center released today examines a variety of claims made about charter schools and offers a comprehensive roundup of what research evidence has actually shown about these schools and their role as a vehicle for education reform.

The analysis is by Gary Miron of Western Michigan University as well as William Mathis and Kevin Welner, both of the University of Colorado Boulder. It was written for the Think Twice think tank review project of the NEPC. The project and the NEPC are housed at CU Boulder’s School of Education.

Miron is a veteran analyst of the growth and performance of charter schools nationally. Mathis is managing director and Welner is director of the NEPC.

The analysis is grounded in a review of a report issued last August by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Separating Fact & Fiction: What You Need to Know about Charter Schools. The original report lists 21 criticisms of charter schools, labeling them as “myths” and attempting to rebut them.

The NEPC review considers these criticisms and responses, using them to frame a research-based, item-by-item overview of the issues.

One overarching finding of the NEPC review is that, notwithstanding its title, the NAPCS report at best muddies the distinction between fact and fiction and at worst perpetuates certain fictions as fact and certain facts as fiction.

“Unfortunately, in addressing 21 ‘myths,’ it embraces fiction whenever useful to push advocacy goals, thus perpetuating its own myths and fictions about charter schools,” says Miron.

While offering an evidence-based response toSeparating Fact & Fiction, the NEPC review also provides in a single document a wide range of research sources and summary findings that researchers, policymakers, and interested citizens may find helpful in continuing discussions and debate over the merits of charter schools.

The review “provides a useful opportunity to walk through the various claims and succinctly address each,” says Mathis. Those include evidence concerning whether charter schools are equitably financed; the qualifications of charter school teachers relative to those at traditional public schools; and topics including student selection demographics, academic outcomes, segregation, and innovation.

“While the NAPCS report itself may provide only sound-bite fodder for advocates,” the authors conclude, “we hope that the two documents combined—report plus review—offer an overview of issues that does advance comprehensive understanding.”

Find the review by Gary Miron, William Mathis, and Kevin Welner on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-separating-fact-and-fiction

Find Separating Fact & Fiction: What You Need to Know about Charter Schools, published by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on the web at:
http://www.publiccharters.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Separating-Fact-from-Fiction.pdf.

 

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project (http://thinktankreview.org) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org