With charter schools now serving approximately one million students nationwide, policymakers have been awaiting rigorous evaluations of their effects on student learning. The following articles help fill the gap.Caroline Hoxby and Jonah Rockoff present evidence from the first randomized evaluation of charter schools, focusing on three charter schools in Chicago. Robert Bifulco and Helen Laddexamine charter schools in the Tar Heel state, concentrating on those students whose progress can be compared in both charter and traditional public schools.
The picture that emerges is, to say the least, complex. But we learn some significant things: Charter schools appear to do better with young students who matriculate directly into these schools than with students who enter during the middle-school years. Students who remain in charter schools do better than those who migrate back and forth between sectors.