Nicholas Jones writes:
Charter school students outperform their public school peers in some areas, a new study shows, as the Government continues to work towards introducing the controversial schools in New Zealand.
Yet the opposition and their unions say that charter schools must not even be trialled in NZ.
My view is simple. Allow suitable applicants to establish charter schools, so long as no student is forced to attend one (they won’t be), and keep them going only so long as they match or exceed the performance of other schools.
The study by Stanford University researchers at the Center for Research on Education Outcomes examined the standardised test results of students enrolled in charter schools in 26 states and New York City.
Results were compared to those of students with the same demographics and academic profiles in public schools that the charter students would have otherwise attended.
The original study in 2009 found many students in charter schools were not performing as well as those in nearby public schools, and was widely cited by opponents of the publicly funded, privately-run schools.
However, the updated study shows that, overall, charter school students are now surpassing those in public schools in reading gains and keeping pace in maths.
This is a major finding. It reverses the earlier study that opponents were citing.
The improvement was helped by the closure of 8 per cent of schools included in the 2009 analysis because they were underperforming.
And this is key. You generally can not close a state school that is merely under-performing. Charter schools are more accountable as they can be closed for non-performance.