Fuller found the two reports fall short in providing evidence to back their claims.
The first report on Pennsylvania’s schools shows rates of student infractions on average are lower in charter schools. Using that data, the author states outcomes for students would improve if access to public charter schools in the state were increased. The author also states the methods of compiling the data are limited and the results can be defined as correlational instead of causal.
Fuller stated it is unclear whether differences in the data are due to the selection of “certain kinds of families” in charter schools, or from the organizational practices of charter schools. He noted the lower rate of student infractions comes from data in Philadelphia County, which serves large populations of disadvantaged students. However, it does not cover other parts of the state.
The second report makes the claim that principals in Texas will change how they allocate school budgets if faced with the threat of competition from the opening of a hypothetical charter school. The report claims principals change budget allocations for different positions and instructional resources and claims anticipated charter school competition has “large negative effects” on reported spending in certain categories of support staff.
Fuller determined the report provides little significant statistical information because it was informed by just 8% of Texas principals who participated in a statewide survey. As a result, it would be difficult to generalize the report's findings, he concluded.
Neither report should be used to help determine education policy due to their lack of evidence to support their wide-ranging claims.
Read the full review on the Great Lakes Center website or on the National Education Policy Center website.