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A Think Twice Review of:

Charter Schools and the Achievement Gap

Think Twice - Apr 10, 2018

Publisher/Think Tank - The Future of Children, a collaboration of the Brookings Institution and Princeton University.

Author(s) - Sarah Cohodes, Teachers College, Columbia University

A recent report published by the Future of Children, a collaboration of the Brookings Institution and Princeton University, recommended the expansion of intensive school discipline practices to drive academic results. Despite charter schools performing no better than traditional public schools on average, the report found “no-excuses” charter schools demonstrate promising results. The report advanced that the practices should be expanded within and outside the charter school sector.

Reviewer(s) - A. Chris Torres, Michigan State University; & Joanne Golann, Vanderbilt University.

An academic review of the report finds that the report leaves readers with an incomplete understanding of the recommended practices and fails to address limits and potential problems. According to the reviewers, the report provided a standard literature review, which was appropriate for its purposes. The reviewers add, “We see several important problems with the recommendation to replicate ‘no-excuses’ schools and their practices based purely on the evidence reviewed.” More specifically, the reviewers find three primary flaws with the report’s conclusions: (a) the report bases its recommendations only on academic success, and does not address the controversy over the use of harsh discipline methods; (b) the report fails to identify which practices included in “no-excuses” charters should be replicated; and (c) the report ignores some of the factors that would allow “no-excuses” charters to be successful.