Do charter schools “cream” the best students from neighborhood public schools? According to a new study by Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby, the answer is “no.” On September 24 the Wall Street Journal reported that charges of charter schools “cherry-picking” the best students is inaccurate.
Students are accepted into charter schools by a random lottery of all applicants. In order to remove self-selection bias in her study, Hoxby studied both New York City’s charter school students and the regular public school students who applied to charter schools but were not selected in the lottery.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Hoxby found that “New York charter applicants are more likely than the average New York family to be black, poor and living in homes with adults who possess fewer education credentials.”
She also found that by the third grade, charter school students are on their way to closing their achievement gap. Hoxby wrote: “On average, a student who attended a charter school for all of the grades kindergarten through eight would close about 86% of the “˜Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap’ in math and 66% of the achievement gap in English.”
Charter schools in Chicago and Boston also see similar results.
Given charter schools’ increasingly recognized ability to raise the achievement levels of low-income, minority or otherwise disadvantaged students, isn’t it time that Oregon lawmakers, school districts and education professionals made it easier for all of Oregon’s charter schools to grow and flourish?
Kathryn Hickok is Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.