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Taking a Deeper Look at Charters' Discipline Policies

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Education Week has published a collection of stories and data about charter discipline that may be of great interest to readers of this blog.

The differences in discipline policies between charter schools and traditional public schools have come under scrutiny from skeptics of charter schools who believe that they push out too many challenging students through strict discipline policies, thereby inflating their overall school performance.

Meanwhile, traditional public schools operate under policies that make it harder to expel students. Complaints about charters' behavior in this area are fueled by data from a number of school districts examined by Education Week, including the District of Columbia Public Schools, where charter schools expelled far more students than the traditional district.

In one story featured in the series, Education Week reporter Jaclyn Zubrzycki follows the stories of two separate students in Chicago—one of whom attends a charter school, the other of whom was kicked out for disciplinary infractions. The series also includes a breakdown of discipline data comparing charters to traditional public schools. And Jaclyn also delves into a new policy in New Orleans—where the majority of students attend charter schools—that bring more uniform standards to expulsion and enrollment policies across the city. The series also includes a Q & A with KIPP CEO Richard Barth, who oversees a much-praised charter school network, but one which has drawn some criticism for not replacing students lost to attrition.

The entire package is well worth a read if you haven't taken a look already.

On a related note, Ron Zimmer, of Vanderbilt University, and Cassandra Guarino, of Indiana University, recently released a working paper that investigated the movement of students in charter and traditional public schools from one large, anonymous district.

The study found that fewer students were "pushed out" of the charter schools than district schools there. While the sample set is small, the researchers concluded that "while there needs to be more research in other districts or states, our results weaken the 'push-out' argument against the establishment of charter schools in general."

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