Study: Students in Florida charter high schools more likely to graduate
Students in Florida charter schools are much more likely than similar students at traditional high schools to graduate and go to college, according to a new study highlighted in the latest issue of Education Next. The study, co-authored by Florida State University economist Tim Sass, looks at student data from Florida and Chicago and comes to this conclusion:
We find evidence that charter high schools in both locations have substantial positive effects on both high school completion and college attendance. Controlling for key student characteristics (including demographics, prior test scores, and the prior choice to enroll in a charter middle school), students who attend a charter high school are 7 to 15 percentage points more likely to earn a standard diploma than students who attend a traditional public high school. Similarly, those attending a charter high school are 8 to 10 percentage points more likely to attend college.
The authors say they're not sure why charter high schools are doing better. But they looked at things like smaller school sizes and different grade configurations - and concluded those things were not why the charter high schools performed better. They write, "There is certainly room for future work to explore how difference in curricula, expectations, peer characteristics, and other factors may cause charter schools to diminish the high-school dropout rate and ease the transition to postsecondary schooling."
The study's findings have implications for the Tampa Bay area. Pinellas has four charter high schools, and two more on the way. Meanwhile, the district is looking at revamping its dropout prevention system in ways that may reflect what some charter high schools are doing.