Flawed science not needed to make judgements about school choice.

A new study out of Stanford University indicates that charter schools are outperforming traditional public schools (Editorial Board, June 15). School choice supporters touting the study to claim victory. It’s an empirical and tactical mistake.

The study matches students in charter schools to students in traditional public schools who profile similarly in terms of achievement history and demographic profile. The methodology assumes that differences in test scores between these students are the effect of attending a particular school. Trouble is, there are unobserved differences between charter students and traditional public school students beyond demographics and achievement history. For example, parents are sometimes required to commit to certain levels of involvement with the school, potentially screening out more disengaged parents. A successful and noble choice movement should lead with honesty. The fact is that for whatever value it might provide, the CREDO study cannot precisely quantify the effectiveness of charter schools when it comes to test scores.

That’s okay.

Read the rest of this article on WSJ.com. If you’re interested in more discussion on school choice and public education in New York, subscribe to the Messages of Necessity podcast.

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