May 4, 2015

Contact:
Erica Frankenberg, (814) 865-5862, euf10@psu.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Charter school push-out report's conclusions are unsubstantiated, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (May 4, 2015) – A Manhattan Institute report by Marcus A. Winters recently investigated claims that New York City charter schools are pushing out low-performing students as a means of inflating academic achievement scores. The report suggested that charter school exit rates were similar to traditional public schools (TPS). However, an academic review of the report finds, despite a rich dataset available for the analysis, that the report has little detail and fails to provide guidance to policymakers.

Erica Frankenberg, assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Penn State University, reviewed Pushed Out? Low-performing Students and New York City Charter Schools for the Think Twice think tank review project. The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) produced the review with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. Dr. Frankenberg's research focuses on racial desegregation and inequality in K-12 schools, including how school choice policies affect students' stratification and equal opportunity.

In short, the report determines that there is no charter push-out effect for low-performing students in charter schools. Despite this, Frankenberg, in her review, discovers that: (1) the research design does not address its primary push-out question; (2) the report has little detail; (3) the report does not examine other relevant factors; and (4) there is a substantial gap between the findings and the conclusions of the report.

Specifically, Frankenberg notes that the report's findings show attrition rates for low-achieving students are higher than attrition of higher-performing students. The report's conclusions that NYC charter schools are not pushing out students are unsupported.

Frankenberg states "In sum, understanding whether students are differently pushed out of charter schools requires a more nuanced, in-depth study utilizing a range of student characteristics, looking at variation within and across sectors, and across grade levels, over time."

Regarding the usefulness of the report, Frankenberg says, "This report would be more useful if it contained more substantive information about charter student attrition rates." She suggests that a qualitative approach would also help decision makers fully understand if students are being pushed out and why.

Read the full review at:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find Pushed Out? Low-performing Students and New York City Charter Schools on the web:
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_95.htm#.VUKY_NNViko

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education, Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develp reasearch-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/