Full Page Ad in The New York Times
Now who do you think put up the gazillion bucks for this ad?
The idea that this group should be questioning "research sponsored by interest groups engaged in policy debates" is laughable. Look at the interest groups with which their own research is associated. And when public schoolteachers point out they are teaching children living in poverty, these very same people shout "No Excuses!"
Take a look at Hanushek's "expert testimony" in the Williams vs California, et al case. Take a look at what travels under the name of research by Jay Greene. And so on.
I'd still like to know who put up the money for this ad.
Data Quality. The study is based on data from the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Often referred to as the Nation's Report Card, NAEP provides a valuable snapshot of student performance nationwide at a single point in time. But since only limited family background information is currently available for the 2003 NAEP, the study does not provide reliable information on the effectiveness of any particular type of school.
Only One Set of Test Scores. Because only one year of information is available for charter schools from NAEP, the study provides test scores for only one point in time. But without better background information, accurately measuring school effectiveness requires information on student performance from at least two points in time.
Limited Background Information. Because of limited NAEP information on family background, the study does not take into account such key characteristics of students known to affect their performance as parental education,household income, and the quality of learning resources in the home.
Unsophisticated Analysis. When analyzing charter schools' effects on student performance, the study considers differences in only one family background characteristic at a time. To obtain accurate estimates, all available bacground characteristics must be considered simultaneously.
What NAEP can Tell us. NAEP data do show that charter schools tend to serve a relatively disadvantaged population. As compared with traditional public schools, a higher proportion of students in charter schools are eligible for the federal free or reduced price lunch program, are from minority backgrounds, and attend a school located in a central city.
Journalistic Responsibility. The news media has an obligation to assess carefully any research sponsored by interest groups engaged in policy debates. Such studies need to be vetted by independent scholars, as is commonly done in coverage of research on the biological and physical sciences.
Further Research. To date, we lack definitive evidence on the effectiveness of charter schools, in part because they are so new and so varied. Fortunately, higher-quality research on charter schools is already underway. Still more needs to be done before jumping to conclusions about the merits of one of the nation's most prominent education reform strategies.
Charter School Evaluation Reported by The New York Times Fails to Meet Professional Standards
We, the undersigned members of the research community, are dismayed by the prominent, largely uncritical coverage given by The New York Times to a study of charter schools by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). According to the paper's lead news story on August 17, the analysis shows "charter school students often doing worse than comparable students in regular public schools."
The study in question does not meet current professional research standards. As a result, it tells us nothing about whether charter schools are succeeding. The following considerations are key:
Julian R. Betts, University of California, San Diego
John E. Brandl, University of Minnesota
David E. Campbell, University of Notre Dame
Mary Beth Celio, University of Washington
James G. Cibulka, University of Kentucky
Gregory U. Cizek, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
David N. Figlio, University of Florida
David J. Francis, University of Houston
Howard L. Fuller, Marquette University
Charles Glenn, Boston University
Jay P. Greene, Manhattan Institute
Eric A. Hanushek, Stanford University
James J. Heckman, University of Chicago
Paul T. Hill, University of Washington
William G. Howell, Harvard University
Caroline M. Hoxby, Harvard University
Tom Loveless, The Brookings Institution
Robert Maranto, Villanova University
Terry M. Moe, Stanford University
Thomas J. Nechyba, Duke University
Paul E. Peterson, Harvard University
Michael Podgursky, University of Missouri, Columbia
Margaret E. Raymond, Stanford University
Jonah Roockoff, Columbia University
Simeon Slovacek, California State University, Los Angeles
Tim R. Sass, Florida State University
Paul Teske, University of Colorado, Denver
Richard K. Vedder, Ohio University
Herbert J. Walberg, University of illinois, Chicago
Martin R. West, Harvard University
Patrick J. Wolf, Georgetown University
This ad was sponsored by The Center for Education Reform
New York Times
INDEX OF RESEARCH THAT COUNTS