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A Think Twice Review of:

No Excuses Charter Schools: A Meta-Analysis of the Experimental Evidence

Think Twice - Jan 20, 2015

Publisher/Think Tank - Department of Education Reform (DER) at the University of Arkansas

Author(s) - Albert Cheng, Collin Hitt, Brian Kasida, & Jonathan N. Mill

The authors of this working paper declared that students attending No Excuses charter schools had significantly improved math and reading scores. No Excuses schools feature high academic standards, strict disciplinary codes, extended instructional time, and targeted supports for low-performing students. The hope is that by having high standards for academics and discipline, No Excuses schools will help close the achievement gap between minority students and their White peers. The authors used findings from 10 studies that utilized experimental methods to estimate achievement outcomes.

Reviewer(s) - Jeanne M. Powers, Arizona State University

Jeanne Powers, Arizona State University, found that the working paper is of limited value to policymakers or anyone seeking to understand the advantages or disadvantages of the No Excuses model. Powers, in her review, finds several flaws in the paper: (1) students who apply to charter school lotteries are not representative of all charter school students; (2) the authors did not address student attrition from charter schools; and (3) the results are based on a small sample of schools concentrated in East Coast cities. She says, “As a result, the author’s claim that No Excuses schools can close the achievement gap substantially overstates their findings.” Furthermore, Powers cautions “the current research base is too limited to make conclusions about the effectiveness of No Excuses charter schools.”