The Dirty Little Secret That Discredits Florida’s Latest Charter School Miracle Study

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Florida Public Employees

Dirty_Little_SecretJanuary 30, 2014

By:  – Scathing Purple Musings

So redefinED‘s Ron Matus bit hard on a charter school miracle piece in Jay P. Geene’s Blog and missed something huge. Maybe the new addition of the job title as  director for policy & public affair for Step Up for Students allows him to wear another hat. Writes Matus:

Students who attend Florida charter high schools are more likely to persist in college and earn more money than their counterparts in district schools, an “especially striking” finding given little differences in test scores, according to a new working paper. (Hat tip: Colin Hitt at Jay P. Greene’s Blog).

The paper is co-authored by four researchers, including Tim Sass, formerly an economics professor at Florida State University and now at Georgia State University. It builds on earlier research that found students in charter high schools in Florida and Chicago were more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college than like students in traditional public schools. (Both groups examined attended charter schools in eighth grade.) The more recent data continues to show the same thing. But the researchers also found:

*Charter high school students in Florida persisted in college for at least two years at a rate 13 percentage points higher than like district students

*Charter high school students in Florida earned an estimated $2,347 more annually, when they were 23 to 25 years old, than like district students

Golly. We just gotta go charter schools for all now, right?

The authors of the study probably appreciate that Matus used some of their conclusionsverbatim which includes verbage like “open question,” “might be able,” and “it is possible that,” especially when they know what data they used.  Consider this about the Florida sample they utilized:

In Florida, the treatment group who went on to attend charter high schools had higher baseline test scores; were less likely to be black, low-income, and in need of special education services; and were more likely to be Hispanic, relative to the comparison group

With the writers of Matus’ website hijacking the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in the interest of promoting National School Choice Week,  you’d think they’d be more aware of what data actually shows in the study.

So black kids, low-income and special needs students weren’t part of the data which Step Up for Students asserts justifies more Florida charter schools. As Matus’ “students who attend Florida charter high schools” doen’t include them, we’re witnessing “reverse cherry-picking” on the part of the charter school industry. In this case they are ignoring inconvenient facts.

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