Above Photo: Editorial Cartoon — Michigan Radio
“Performance-based accountability” is a hackneyed, Skinnerian, neoliberal buzz-phrase often repeated dogmatically by charter school promoters in order to falsely claim that privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools are more accountable and higher-performing than public schools.
But it is becoming clearer to everyone with each passing day that charter school promoters have long vastly over-promised and under-delivered, while rapidly enriching themselves at the expense of students, parents, the public, the economy, and the national interest.
Extensive research, including research funded by billionaire charter school supporters, has consistently demonstrated that poor performance remains widespread in the scandal-ridden low-transparency charter school sector that intensifies segregation.
Year after year, thousands of privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools, which have been around nearly 30 years, deliver unimpressive results.
Not surprisingly, several thousand charter schools have failed and closed since 1991. At this time, about 150-200 charter schools close each year, leaving thousands of families—mostly African Americans and Latinx—betrayed and angry.
Below, in chronological order, is a tiny sample of the many studies exposing poor charter school performance in many states:
- Miron, G., Coryn, C., & Mackety, D. M. (2007). Evaluating the impact of charter schools on student achievement: A longitudinal look at the Great Lakes States. Evaluation Center, Western Michigan University, The Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice.
- Institute on Race and Poverty. University of Minnesota Law School. (2008). Failed promises: Assessing charter schools in the Twin Cities.
- Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Stanford University. (2009). Multiple choice: Charter school performances in 16 states.1
- Ni, Y., & Rorrer, A. K. (2012). Twice considered: Charter schools and student achievement in Utah. National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education.
- Chingos, M., & West, Martin. (2015). The uneven performance of Arizona’s charter schools. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 37(1), 120-134.
- Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Stanford University. (2015). Online charter school students falling behind their peers. Press Release.
- Orfield, M., & Luce, T. (2016). An analysis of student performance in Chicago’s charter schools. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24(111).
- National Alliance for Public Schools. (2016). A call to action to improve the quality of full-time virtual charter public schools.
- The Center for Popular Democracy, The League of Women Voters of Florida, and The League of Latin American Citizens. (2017). Florida charter schools fall short on state assessments.
- Texas Education Agency. (2018). Texas Charter School System, House Public Education Committee.
- Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Stanford University. (2019). Charter school performance in Ohio
Many other studies could be cited. In addition, serious, reliable, and seasoned bloggers everywhere are also collecting, archiving, discussing, and sharing extensive evidence on the failures of charter schools on many other fronts, not just widespread poor test performance.
It is worth noting that both public schools and privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools are victims of expensive, curriculum-narrowing, time-consuming, high-stakes standardized tests produced by large for-profit corporations that have no idea what a human-centered education looks like. Such corporations are retrogressive and harmful in many ways; they are not concerned with the growth and well-being of children, or the future of society.
The research on how damaging and unsound these expensive corporate tests are is robust, unassailable, and constantly-growing.
High-stakes standardized testing has nothing to do with learning, growth, joy, or serving a modern society and economy. Unsound assessments do not prepare young people for life. High-stakes standardized testing does not even rest on a scientific conception of measurement; it is discredited psychometric pseudo-science through and through.
Still, with these important caveats in mind, thousands of charter schools, even when they cherry-pick students with impunity, dodge tests and ratings, and massage or misreport test scores, perform worse on these flawed, top-down, widely-rejected corporate tests than public schools.
There is no justification for the existence, let alone expansion, of privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit contract schools that are rife with fraud and endless other problems.