Review finds serious flaws in report promoting privately run charter schools

An academic review of a report promoting privately run charter schools shows serious flaws in research, including that the findings are dramatically overstated.

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The report, Charter Management Organizations 2017, from the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) purports that students in charter schools demonstrate slightly greater gains in performance than peers in traditional public schools, especially in charter schools operated by certain types of management organizations.

The CREDO report uses confusing and illogical distinctions between charter management organization types, which are arbitrary and unsupported by research, reviewers said. Additionally, the review calls into question other methodological decisions that threaten the validity of the study.

The reviewers identified several overarching problems that have been identified, including: (1) the report dramatically overstates its findings; (2) CREDO fails to address or acknowledge the report’s methodological limitations; and (3) the report does not take into account other research beyond CREDO’s own work.

As a result, reviewers conclude that readers should use extreme caution when interpreting the results. They say, “The general findings from this study do not have relevance to policymakers.”