While charter schools are an increasingly popular option for Florida students, a University of Central Florida researcher says they don't perform as well as district schools.
Dr. Stanley Smith, a professor at the University of Central Florida's business school, analyzed school grades of Florida elementary schools last summer, examining the effect of poverty and minority status on those grades.
Smith found that "when the poverty and minority characteristics of the student population are controlled, the average charter school performs significantly lower than the average traditional public school."
Smith used complicated formulas to conclude that:
The average charter school is doing about the same as the non-charter school when no adjustments are made for poverty and minority statuses. When the adjusted scores are considered, the average charter school performs significantly worse than the average non-charter school.
"These results call into question the emphasis by state education leaders — particularly Republicans — on charter schools," Smith said.
"Although charter schools may be cheaper for the state to fund, the adjusted scores suggest that Florida is also getting a lower return on these schools," Smith said. "Is the lower average return on these schools worth the lower cost?"
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