Research News

New findings shed light on charter school debate

Ron Zimmer
Ron Zimmer (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)

As the Tennessee General Assembly debates a bill that would give power to the state to authorize charter schools, Ron Zimmer, associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development, has released the findings of a new study that show that there is no significant difference in student achievement based on whether the child attends a state-authorized or a district-authorized charter school.

“Using data from Ohio where non-profits, districts, states and county-level organizations can authorizer charter schools, we found students had lower achievement while attending non-profit-authorized schools. Students attending state-authorized charter schools did no better or worse than students authorized by other authorizers, including district-authorized schools,” Zimmer said.

The results of his study will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Education, Finance and Policy.

In previous studies, Zimmer has found that charter schools are not, as detractors have put forth, systematically cream skimming the best students and generally not having much impact on racial segregation.