We will continue to hear about charter miracle schools. The stories are over-blown but there are surely great charter schools, as there are great (unionized) traditional public schools and private schools. But when you look, this issue always comes down to leadership, not organizational structure.
The latest in a long line of data supporting the proposition that charters do not, as an overall structure, out-perform traditional public schools is the new CREDO study from Stanford, the definitive long-term source of charter school performance analysis although (they must be read with certain widely-discussed cautions- just search on CREDO to get a taste, but here is a good beginning list).
There are many ways to read the study and many reviews of it, but the most useful review is this one from Brookings: Much Ado Over Tiny Differences. The title says it all and the post delivers the goods. Author Tom Loveless starts by asking,
Are the differences reported by CREDO large enough to be significant in the real world?….
And concludes that,
The two sectors perform about the same. Claims that the CREDO studies demonstrate the success or failure of one sector or the other are based on analyses that make small differences appear much larger than they really are.
You’ve got to be patient to read what comes between, but your patience will be rewarded.