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A Think Twice Review of:

A Meta-Analysis of the Literature on the Effect of Charter Schools on Student Achievement

Think Twice - Sep 30, 2014

Publisher/Think Tank - Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE)

Author(s) - Julian R. Betts & Y. Emily Tang

A report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) attempted to examine whether charter schools have a positive effect on student achievement. The report reviewed 52 studies selected by the authors and found charters to be serving students well, particularly in math. The CRPE report is an update of prior reports that examine the achievement of charter schools as compared to traditional public schools.

Reviewer(s) - Francesca López, University of Arizona

In her review, Francesca López says, “The report does a solid job describing the methodological limitations of the studies reviewed, then seemingly forgets those limits in the analysis.” Specifically, López finds fault with the authors’ use of lottery-based studies, cautioning that inclusion limits the study’s usefulness in broad comparisons of all charters vs. public schools. Her review finds several problems that prevent it from being of use to policymakers: (1) claims of positive effects when they are not statistically significant; (2) exaggeration of the magnitude effects; (3) reliance on simple vote-counts from a selected sample of studies; and (4) unwarranted extrapolation of the available evidence.