April 10, 2018

A. Chris Torres, (517) 432-0136, ctorres@msu.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Report recommending the expansion of "no-excuses" charter practices fails to recognize the problems associated with replication

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Apr. 10, 2018) — A recent report published by the Future of Children, a collaboration of the Brookings Institution and Princeton University, recommended the expansion of intensive school discipline practices to drive academic results. Despite charter schools performing no better than traditional public schools on average, the report found "no-excuses" charter schools demonstrate promising results. The report advanced that the practices should be expanded within and outside the charter school sector. However, a new academic review of the report finds that the report leaves readers with an incomplete understanding of the recommended practices and fails to address limits and potential problems.

The report, Charter Schools and the Achievement Gap, was reviewed by A. Chris Torres, Michigan State University, and Joanne Golann, Vanderbilt University, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

According to the reviewers, the report provided a standard literature review, which was appropriate for its purposes. The reviewers add, "We see several important problems with the recommendation to replicate 'no-excuses' schools and their practices based purely on the evidence reviewed." More specifically, the reviewers find three primary flaws with the report's conclusions:

  1. The report bases its recommendations only on academic success, and does not address the controversy over the use of harsh discipline methods;
  2. The report fails to identify which practices included in "no-excuses" charters should be replicated; and
  3. The report ignores some of the factors that would allow "no-excuses" charters to be successful.

In their conclusion, the reviewers add: "Policymakers, practitioners, and researchers need to do much more to understand and address the potential costs of the 'no-excuses' model before giving thought to expanding these practices in either the charter or traditional school sector."

Find the review on the web:

Find Charter Schools and the Achievement Gap here:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), 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.

You can also find the review on the NEPC website:

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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 develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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