Review of Charter Schools: A Report on Rethinking the Federal Role in Education

Susan Dynarski, Caroline Hoxby, Tom Loveless, Mark Schneider, Grover Whitehurst, and John Witte
Brookings Institution
December 16, 2010
January 20, 2011

The report summarizes evidence from five studies of student achievement in oversubscribed charter schools and two studies on charter school revenues and outlines a number of recommendations relevant to the federal role in charter schools. While many recommendations are reasonable, those related to charter school facilities and charter school finance are more likely to be disputed because they are poorly developed and based on a narrow and misleading view of the evidence. This review discusses and expands upon the evidence and recommendations presented in the report. The intent of the report is to guide federal policy in ways that can improve and expand charter schools, but weaknesses in the report and flaws in the conclusions and the process used to generate the report undermine its utility. The report can serve as an initial step in outlining some of the key issues that federal lawmakers should consider. Nevertheless, federal policies that will strengthen charter schools in the longer run—rather than expanding the number of charter schools in the short run—need to be based on a more accurate and representative body of evidence. Further, the process of formulating recommendations requires more than six voices and more than a day of conversations to develop a comprehensive understanding of vital issues as well as to build a consensus. SUGGESTED CITATION: Miron, G. (2011). Review of “Charter Schools: A Report on Rethinking the Federal Role in Education.” Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-charter-federal.

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