A Huffington Post article titled “Charter School Growth in Michigan Brings a Cautionary Tale on Quality” goes to great lengths to twist the overwhelmingly positive results of a new study of Michigan’s charter schools by Stanford University into something else.
Here's a statistic the article's author, Joy Resmovits, picked out of the study:
A CREDO study on Michigan released this week found that 80 percent of charters perform below the 50th percentile of achievement in reading, and 84 percent perform below that threshold in math.
This observation appears on pages 35 and 36 of the study. As the study itself explains, Michigan public charter schools educate more low-income students, who tend to enter school at an academic disadvantage. It comes as no surprise then that most of them would fall below the state average based on raw test scores. The important thing to measure — which the rest of the study focuses on — is student academic growth.
For some reason, Resmovits chose not to highlight these findings that measure growth and that are based on the study's rigorous methodology that attempts to create an apples-to-apples comparison between charter school students and those in conventional schools. The authors of the study summarize those results on page 6 of the introduction:
Compared to the educational gains that charter students would have had in a traditional public school (TPS), the analysis shows that, on average, students in Michigan charter schools make larger learning gains in both reading and mathematics. Thirty-five percent of the charter schools have significantly more positive learning gains than their TPS counterparts in reading, while two percent of charter schools have significantly lower learning gains. In math, 42 percent of the charter schools studied outperform their TPS peers and 6 percent perform worse. These findings position Michigan among the highest performing charter school states CREDO has studied to date.
So, let's get this straight: A new report finding that Michigan’s charter schools are posting significant positive learning gains compared to their peers and are among the best in the country is somehow a "cautionary tale" for other states?
Here's hoping other states throw this "caution" to the wind and follow Michigan's example.