Re-examining the charter school debate

Widely acknowledged past research on charter schools reported that these students were more likely to be proficient on their state’s reading and math exams when compared to students in the nearest public school with a similar racial composition. But this past research citing a “charter advantage” inadequately controlled for differences in racial composition and socioeconomic status. When one directly takes into account racial composition and poverty, the perceived advantage of charter schools vanishes completely. For a more thorough analysis of this important education issue, read the Briefing Paper, Advantage None—Re-Examining Hoxby’s Finding of Charter School Benefits.

The Charter School Dust-upCharter schools: the evidence on enrollment and achievement

When federal statistics showed test scores lower in charter than in regular schools, some charter school supporters insisted this must result from charter schools enrolling harder-to-teach minority students. Data show, however, that typical charter school students are not more disadvantaged, yet their average achievement is not higher. EPI’s latest book, The Charter School Dust-Up: Examining the evidence on enrollment and achievement, reviews the existing research on charter schools and suggests how such debates could be improved: by carefully accounting for the difficulty of educating particular groups of students before interpreting test scores, and by focusing on student gains, not their level of achievement at any particular time.

Exceptional ReturnsInvesting in children yields exceptional returns

The problems for children and society that result from childhood poverty cry out for effective policy solutions. There is a strong consensus among the experts who have studied high-quality early childhood development (ECD) programs that these programs have significant payoffs. EPI’s latest study—Exceptional Returns: Economic, Fiscal, and Social Benefits of Investment in Early Childhood Development, by EPI research associate Robert G. Lynch—demonstrates, for the first time, that providing all 20% of the nations three- and four-year-old children who live in poverty with a high-quality ECD program would have a substantial payoff for governments and taxpayers in the future.