Thursday, December 31, 2015

Both traditional and charter schools in L.A. Unified could learn from this study - LA Times

Both traditional and charter schools in L.A. Unified could learn from this study - LA Times:

Both traditional and charter schools in L.A. Unified could learn from this study

arter schools: good or bad? There are few subjects on which school officials, parents and advocates for students are more impassioned and divided, which is why the proposal to open hundreds of new charter schools for Los Angeles' students is shaping up as an epic education battle. But now a new study out of UC Berkeley— looking specifically at charter school performance in the Los Angeles Unified School District — provides a more nuanced view, showing that the yes-no, either-or attitude that tends to dominate the debate is not only misguided but also counterproductive.
The study found that students who enter charter high schools within the district are already higher achievers than those entering traditional public schools. The same was true of elementary schools, though it's harder to estimate the differences there. Middle school students started out no more advanced.
Once students are enrolled in charter schools, their academic growth was slightly steeper in elementary schools than it would have been in a traditional L.A. Unified school; far steeper in middle school; but not better at all in high school.
What does all this mean? Most importantly, it says wonderful things about the work that independent charter schools are doing with middle schoolers. Those students are at the same level as their district school counterparts when they enter sixth grade, but surge ahead of them over the next three years. Less happily, the research suggests that charter schools haven't managed to follow that act in high school.
The Berkeley study also backs up a long-held contention of charter opponents: Simplistic comparisons of student test scores from both kinds of schools, charter and district, don't necessarily give the public useful information — because the students begin at different levels of achievement. Most likely that's because parents who are savvy and proactive about their children's education — the kinds of parents who give their kids a head start on their schooling — are more likely to find out about charter schools in the first place, attend their meetings, enter the lotteries for admission and then help their children succeed at those schools.
Policymakers, school officials and charter supporters should all be paying attention to the new research. There have been previous studies on L.A. Unified's charter schools, the most important of which came from Stanford University and found that when similar students attended charter and district schools, the charter students learned more. What the Berkeley study adds is a first look at differences between students when they arrive at the schools and at which grade levels charters offer the most advantage. This information can help educators determine which kinds of schools will do the most good. L.A. Unified leaders, rather than viewing the charter push with dismay, should be figuring out what Both traditional and charter schools in L.A. Unified could learn from this study - LA Times:

Big Education Ape: Berkeley Study of Charter Schools in Los Angeles | UC Berkeley - Graduate School of Education

Big Education Ape: LA charter school study: who benefits? | Berkeley News