On charter schools, the ‘story is in the variation’

Macke Raymond tends to have a favorable view of charter schools, but she’s quick to point out the sector includes effective schools and others that are not so good.

“The story is in the variation,” Raymond, director of Stanford’s CREDO and the author of the best-known studies of charter schools, told an Indiana University audience recently.

That’s true in Indiana, where a lot of variation seems tied to who authorized the schools. A 2012 CREDO study found that schools authorized by the mayor of Indianapolis did better than other charter schools, most of them authorized by Ball State University.

A look at high-poverty schools – where more than 80 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch – shows the pattern held for ISTEP results in 2013, the last year for which scores are available. Over 70 percent of students in mayor-sponsored schools passed the tests, compared with less than 60 percent in other charters.


This slicing of the data follows a post last month that found high-poverty district schools had better test results than high-poverty charter schools. Someone suggested comparing high-poverty charter schools with urban district schools, because most high-poverty charter schools are in cities. So I did; with Indianapolis Public Schools. Continue reading