Charter-School Management Organizations: Diverse Strategies and Diverse Student Impacts

Two months ago, Mathematica and the Center on
Reinventing Public Education offered
preliminary findings
from their four-year study on charter-management
organizations. The upshot: When it comes to student achievement, CMO
performance varies widely. Two weeks ago, analysts put out a revised and
extended version of their interim report, adding analyses on graduation and
postsecondary enrollment rates (and school-level, as opposed to CMO-level,
middle school impacts). The results are again mixed. Data were much scarcer for
these graduation and post-secondary enrollment components (in part because
fewer CMOs run high schools): Six CMOs had sufficient data to investigate their
graduation rates and four had sufficient data to investigate post-secondary
enrollment. Of these, two had significantly positive effects when compared to similar
district schools, raising both graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates by
about 20 percent. And one CMO had a significant negative impact (22 percent) on
graduation rates. Meager data aside, one frustrating thread continues through
each of these published preliminary reports: Which CMOs raise college enrollment rates by 20 percent? And which
lowers graduation rates by that same amount? Mathematica and CRPE never say.
The project’s culminating report is due out in March. We wait with bated breath
for the authors to name names.

Melissa Bowen, et al., Charter-School
Management Organizations: Diverse Strategies and Diverse Student Impacts

(Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research; Seattle, WA: Center on Reinventing
Public Education, 2012).

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