by Jeanne Allen
Letter to the Editor
July 2, 2013
It’s disheartening to read the June 26 headline “Study: Pa. in Bottom Three for Charter School Scores,” especially when the study is so flawed. The study, from a group called Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO, is anything but charter school performance gospel.
The reality is we cannot make conclusions about Pennsylvania charter schools or charters anywhere else without randomized control trials — the gold standard for research — that use actual student-by-student data over time.
The CREDO report, which produced some unfavorable figures for Pennsylvania charters, fails to use such methods. The report instead employs statistical gymnastics to make spurious comparisons of charter student achievement across state lines while altering data to ensure all students “start” at the same level.
Highly criticized by leading researchers and economists for failing the test of good research, CREDO results don’t accurately convey results of charter and traditional public schools. State-by-state and community-by-community analyses are the only real measures that offer validity for parents and policymakers.
We believe all schools, including charter schools, must be held accountable. The path to accountability must start with strong charter school laws, multiple and independent charter school authorizers, in addition to the highest academic and operational standards.