Stanford’s Observations Of Charter Schools

The Washington Times (6/16, Billups) reports, “Even as the president has touted the growth of charter schools and his education secretary has decried state caps on their numbers, a new study from Stanford University has found that the nation’s charter schools have not significantly raised student achievement when compared with traditional public schools. The study of collective reading and math progress in 2,403 charter schools in 15 states and cities, including the District of Columbia was released Monday by researchers at Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO).” Findings “showed that almost half of the charter schools produced results similar to those from comparable public schools, and schools producing worse results than the traditional schools outnumbered those with better numbers by more than 2 to 1.”

Not to put Stanford on too high a pedestal, it is difficult to absorb the criticism from Jeanne Allen at CER and not giggle a little bit.  It is difficult for me to imagine Stanford releasing a study/report as full of poor data collection as Jeanne Allen suggests – not because Stanford is on a pedestool, but the mere fact that Stanford is involved with so many charter schools.  Is it not a bit counter intuitive that Stanford would present data which could be interpreted to mean they have not done enough with the charter schools they are involved with?  Ms. Allen suffers from the inability to acknowledge reality while trying to condemn one of the foremost education programs.  I personlly find it refreshing when an institution such as Stanford is able to NOT manipulate the data and put spin on it, even when it would surely benefit their own cause.


What would it look like if, for the sake of conversation, Margaret Raymond, et. al., was acknowledged as pointing out some items for review in the charter education field? I thought charter schools had the mantra of reviewing the data, not reviling it because it does not agree with what they believe.  How courageous of Ms. Allen to be critical of data which could very well lead to improvements in education.  Clearly there are some areas where charter schools are (to quote our K-12 students) ‘not all that’. 

 All of this is amusing as I have worked for a charter school and, to quote another famous education personality (Michelle Rhee of Washington D.C. fame), data which did not support the charter school message was considered an “anomaly”.  So, it would seem, charter schools seek data which confirms their belief system rather than rely on data for critical analysis to improve what is going on.  What a shame that the innovators and ‘true’ believers of education reform are so closed minded.


I am disappointed that the Stanford data and report does not show better things for charter schools. From what I have been ‘re-educated’ (in the Chinese labor camp style) to understand, charter schools are the last great hope to reform our education system – if only we would USE THE DATA.