We hear the question in this blog’s title a lot. It’s based on findings in a number of reports about charter schools such as the now famous (infamous?) 2009 CREDO study, “Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States.”
The claim that only 17 percent of charter schools outperform traditional public schools comes from that 2009 study. This assertion is often made by school-choice opponents in Kentucky, including anti-charter opponents in the General Assembly.
But there is good evidence that most charter school reports are not studying charter schools properly, which biases the findings against these public schools of choice. Believe it or not, some of that evidence can even be found in CREDO’s 2009 study. Once we look at this evidence, the charter school advantage for students becomes quite apparent. In fact, because the quality of charter-school programs varies considerably between states, if we focus on a state with a notably better charter program, the advantage to students in those schools of choice becomes quite dramatic.