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Comparisons between district and charter schools

Thursday, September 10, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Selina Sandoval
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Over the years, comparisons between district and charter schools have often taken the form of a snapshot of student achievement at a particular moment in time. That’s one reason many studies have concluded that the differences between student performance in the two sectors aren’t that meaningful — but the authors of a new Harvard University study take a longer view, using reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress to examine how the performance of fourth- and eighth-graders in district and charter schools line up over more than a decade. What they found, reports Linda Jacobson: Charters closed the achievement gap with district schools, with black and low-income students making the greatest gains.

In other research news, contributors Betheny Gross and Alice Opalka of the Center on Reinventing Public Education describe a review of the school reopening plans of 477 districts around the country, and what they likely mean for students living in poverty; and contributor Martha Hernandez offers a 10-point road map for serving English learners, based on surveys of 650 California educators.

Plus, Kevin Mahnken introduces an education policy adviser with a key role in the Biden campaign; and Patrick O'Donnell takes stock of the bumpy first day of virtual school in Cleveland, where 6,000 students were still waiting for computers, today at The 74.

Analysis
OPPORTUNITY GAP WIDENS FOR STUDENTS IN POVERTY: As students and teachers begin the new school year, what learning will look like this fall is now in focus. One thing is clear, say contributors Betheny Gross and Alice Opalka: The opportunity gap for students living in poverty is likely to be wider than ever. Their recent review of a nationally representative sample of 477 U.S. school districts for the Center on Reinventing Public Education estimates that about 26 percent are opening fully remote — and of districts serving the largest number of students in poverty, some 40 percent are opening fully remote. This means that as a result of the pandemic, many students who have historically faced opportunity gaps will further be denied access to the resources and experiences they deserve. Find out what schools can do to protect learning opportunities while school remains remote, and read about some large districts that are prioritizing help for children most in need. "Students in the highest-poverty school systems can’t afford to wait for instruction to go back to 'normal.' In many cases, 'normal' wasn’t working well anyway," they write. "Instead, we need to build new systems and strategies to connect students with the resources, opportunities and support they need now, and commit to providing equitable opportunity as we move through, and eventually, beyond the pandemic."
 
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Big Picture
OVER 12 YEARS, ACHIEVEMENT GAP CLOSES BETWEEN DISTRICT, CHARTER SCHOOLS: Comparisons between district and charter schools are often just a snapshot of student achievement at a particular moment in time. That’s one reason many studies have concluded that the differences between student performance in the two sectors aren’t that meaningful, say the authors of a study released yesterday. But Harvard University researchers M. Danish Shakeel and Paul E. Peterson take a longer view, using reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress to examine how the performance of fourth- and eighth-graders in district and charter schools have lined up over time. Their findings are significant: Between 2005 and 2017, reporter Linda Jacobson writes, students in charter schools came from behind and closed the gap, making gains that were roughly twice as large as those made by students in district schools. Black students in charter schools made the greatest gains, especially in math. But experts note that the sample of charter school students in NAEP is not necessarily representative of charter schools as a whole. In addition, the positive trend likely reflects results in urban areas where charter schools are more concentrated. The study adds to evidence that market forces have weeded out lower-performing charter schools and that parents of higher-performing students now see charter schools as a viable option.
  
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