“No matter how you do it, the data doesn't say charters are a smashing success,” said Jonathan Plucker, an Indiana University researcher who studies charters. “They have not reached the potential that we were promised.”That quote in the Courier-Journal strikes me as a fair summary of the charter research overall.
It still seems to me that charters have a substantial advantage: if principals, teachers, and parents are on the same page and united in supporting the school's philosophy and methods, that very unity ought to result in children succeeding at higher levels than they do at schools where some of the adults disagree with the main approach. Instead, the studies coming out either show no advantage or small one.
The C-J also provides added detail from analysis originally done by the Indiana Star:
* Charter schools’ performance was very similar to the district’s on ISTEP, but charters ranked somewhat higher on year-over-year improvement for their students when compared to those with similar scores in English.
* Charters outperformed the district on new high school end-of-course exams begun last year, with a larger share of charter schools ranking high in the state and with fewer at the bottom.
* On the state's rating system, which considers test scores and growth for all students, the performance of charters and district schools was similar, but charters had a higher percentage of schools rated in the top category of “exemplary” and a lower percentage in the bottom category of “probation.”