New NEPC Review Finds Report Makes Poor Use of Good Data

Share Article

Scholar sees little to recommend report that claims New York City charter schools don’t ‘push out’ low-achieving students

http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-pushed-out

While the report’s central question is important, this paper fails to provide policymakers with new or definitive guidance.

A recent report contends that charter schools don’t push out low-achieving students. A new review published today, however, explains that the report fails to prove its case.

Erica Frankenberg of Penn State University reviewed Pushed Out? Low-Performing Students and New York City Charter Schools for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder School of Education.

Frankenberg, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Penn State, conducts research on racial desegregation and inequality in K-12 schools, including how school choice policies affect students’ stratification and equal opportunity.

The report Frankenberg reviewed was written by Marcus A. Winters, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and an assistant professor in the College of Education at CU Colorado Springs. It was published by the Manhattan Institute.

Pushed Out? uses six years of student-level data from New York City public schools and charter schools and applies a regression model to conclude that there’s no significant interaction between a school’s status as a charter school and low-scoring students in estimating the probability the student exits the school by the following year.

In her review, however, Frankenberg finds that “the research design does not address its primary push-out question.” Frankenberg writes, “Simply showing that low-achieving students in both [charter and TPS] sectors have higher attrition rates than do higher-achieving students does not actually answer the overall question the report purports to answer.” The lack of detail in the report, and its failure to examine “a host of other relevant factors” further hamper the report, the reviewer writes.

“Dichotomous test scores are a proxy for low achievement, reasons for disenrollment are not addressed, mid-year vs. end-of-year mobility is not parsed, cumulative rates of attrition are not examined, a possible data discrepancy between the two sectors in grades 5 and 6 is not considered, and 5% of the student population is missing,” Frankenberg writes.

She points out that the missing information is unfortunate considering how rich the dataset is that was available to the report’s author.

“While the report’s central question is important, this paper fails to provide policymakers with new or definitive guidance,” Frankenberg concludes.

Kevin Welner, director of the NEPC and a professor at the CU Boulder School of Education, says Frankenberg’s review points to continuing concerns about charter school practices.

“The charter school advocacy community has designated this as National Charter Schools Week, accompanied by extensive promotional materials and events,” Welner points out. “Yet core equity issues like push-outs need to be seriously addressed, not papered over, if charter schools are ever to live up to the fanfare.”

Find Erica Frankenberg’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-pushed-out

Find Pushed Out? Low-Performing Students and New York City Charter Schools by Marcus A. Winters and published by the Manhattan Institute on the web at:
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_95.htm#.VQM1BUK-eXs

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/kgxajve

Share article on socal media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

William J. Mathis

Erica Frankenberg

(814) 865-5862
Email >
National Education Policy Center (NEPC)
since: 03/2011
Like >