BUT IS IT RIGHT: This is title page of UA conclusions. Similar findings have drawn criticism from another education think tank before.

Which education researcher are you going to believe? The Walton-funded education “reformers” at the University of Arkansas or a University of Colorado group that has taken a critical view of their work?

Up at the UA this month, they are touting an update of research that purports to find that charter schools in eight major U.S. cities have demonstrated better education results for less money than traditional public schoolsYou can read it all here.

Bottom line:


Overall, we find that public charter schools outperform TPS on both productivity metrics overall and for all eight cities. Specifically: In all eight cities, public charter schools outperform TPS IN both math and reading cost-effectiveness;

Diane Ravitch, a former education reformer turned leading critic of the movement, says charter schools don’t deliver more bang for the buck and commented on Twitter today that the UA is just recycling previous work. She points to the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado. It reviewed a similar 2018 UA report and found reasons to criticize. In summary, the NEPC said:

…there are a variety of methodological choices made by the authors that threaten the validity of the results. For example, the report uses revenues rather than actual expenditures – despite well-established critiques of this approach. The report also fails to account for the non-comparability of the student populations in charter and comparison public schools. Three other problems also undercut the report’s claims. First, even though the think tank’s earlier productivity report included a caveat saying that causal claims would not be appropriate, the new report omits that caution. Second, the report’s lack of specificity plagues the accuracy and validity of its calculations; e.g., using state-level data in city-level analyses and completely excluding race and gender. Finally, the authors again fail to reconcile their report with the extensive literature of contrary findings.

You can read the full NEPC review here. This point struck me:

Fourth, even though the report focuses on cities with large communities of color, the report fails to take into account or even mention African Americans, Latinos or any other race/ethnicity.
The continuing racial achievement gap as measured by standardized test scores and the failure of any education alternative to demonstrate a broad ability to close it seems worthy of attention. That’s particularly so given that the gap is used to promote the “choice” agenda at places like the Arkansas legislature — unlimited school transfer, vouchers, charter schools and help for homeschoolers.