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Charters and Choice: Looking Back on 2013

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As the year comes to a close, we're taking a look back at the charter school and school choice stories that dominated the headlines this year. Below is a list of the top 10 most popular posts in the Charters and Choice blog this year—everything from the fiscal impact of charter schools to a new nationwide analysis of charter school performance. 

A couple of big stories that didn't make the top 10: the fight in Louisiana over the state's voucher program, school choice in the 2013 elections, charter schools' efforts to serve students with special needs, and the struggle between the rise of charter schools and the decline of private schools, especially in urban areas.

Curious about how this year compares to last? Check out 2012's year-in-review to refresh your memory and see how well our predictions held up. 

1. KIPP Schools Boost Academic Performance, Study Finds

A report by Mathematica Policy Research found that students in the Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP, charter schools experience significantly greater learning gains in math, reading, science, and social studies than their peers in regular public schools. 

2. Milwaukee Public Schools Outperform Voucher Schools in Program, Report Says

A report from the Public Policy Forum in Milwaukee found that students in the city's voucher program, which enrolls about 25,000 students in private schools through public funds, perform slightly worse on standardized tests in math and reading despite having similar demographics and poverty levels as the student population in the regular school district. 

3. Charters' Path to Success or Failure Set Early, Study Finds

How well a charter school performs academically during their first year is a strong predictor of whether they will excel or struggle in later years, found a far-reaching study by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes. 

4. Q & A: KIPP CEO Addresses Impact of Discipline Policies

Education Week reporter Jackie Zubrzycki interviewed Richard Barth, the chief executive officer of KIPP about its widely criticized discipline policies, which some say attribute to the attrition of low-performing students in that network of charter schools. 

5. School Born of California Parent-Trigger Law Opens Its Doors

After a protracted and tumultuous process led by a group of parents determined to change the leadership and direction of an historically academically struggling school, the first school created by a parent-trigger law opened in July. 

6. New Study: Data Say Charters Aren't 'Pushing Out' Students

There is no statistical evidence that charter schools are "pushing out" low-performing students at a rate higher than regular public schools, a study found. The study examined data from an anonymous large district with a significant number of charters from the 2000-01 to 2006-07 school years. 

7. Americans Support Charters, Oppose Vouchers, Poll Finds

The PDK/Gallup Poll on American attitudes towards public schools found that while charter schools enjoy broad support, 70 percent of those surveyed opposed vouchers for private school tuition. 

8. Charter Boom May Have Negative Fiscal Impact on Districts, Report Says

A report by Moody's Investors Services found that while most school districts have weathered the rise of charter schools without a negative fiscal impact, economically challenged districts with dwindling enrollments may find it difficult to remain financially viable as charters continue to grow. 

9. A Closer Look at States' Charter School Performance

Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes released its second in-depth, nationwide look at the performance of charter schools across the nation, which found that performance varied widely from state to state. 

10. Charter Schools' Funding Lags, Study Finds

Charter school students receive about $4,000 less in per-pupil funding than their regular public school peers, found a report by the University of Arkansas, which analyzed five regions across the U.S.

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