Book Alert: Taking Measure of Charter Schools

Edited by Julian R. Betts and Paul T. Hill
Taking Measure of Charter Schools: Better Assessments, Better Policymaking, Better Schools

Rowman & Littlefield 2010
230 pages

This collection of eleven essays is specialized, even wonky, but it addresses a key issue in the charter-school world, namely how to improve the research into and evaluation of this new universe of schools.

Actually, eight essays deal with improving the research while the final three advise policymakers on making better use of evidence in the charter sphere.

Both are important. For we’ve learned a bunch, much of it sobering, in the two decades since Minnesota passed America’s first charter law, and a great deal of what we’ve learned is how hard it is to apply traditional research and evaluation methods to this sector; how easy it is to oversimplify and overgeneralize; how difficult it is to reconcile seemingly discrepant findings from various studies; and how challenging it is to provide policymakers with evidence they can trust and on the basis of which they can (assuming their own biases, politics, and ideologies are contained) make sound decisions about how to advance this sector and strengthen its performance.

Some of the most thoughtful people in ed-research and ed-policy worlds contributed to this volume (much of which is actually authored in whole or in part by the two editors), and everybody interested in the future of charter schools ought to have a copy on his or her bookshelf.

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