New Analysis Reveals CMO Impacts On High School Graduation, College Enrollment
Contact: Jennifer de Vallance, (202) 484-4692
PRINCETON, NJ—January 9, 2012—A new analysis from the National Study of Charter Management Organization (CMO) Effectiveness provides the first systematic evidence available on the effects of CMOs on the critical long-term outcomes of high school graduation and college entry. The study shows that some—but not all—CMOs substantially boost students’ chances of graduating from high school and enrolling in postsecondary education. The study also shows that each CMO’s impact on test scores is typically consistent across schools, suggesting that CMOs are having some success in promoting uniformity (whether in a positive or negative direction), and that some CMOs have implemented policies, programs, and procedures that allow them to systematically outperform other CMOs. These new findings are described in an updated edition of a report that was originally released in November.
CMOs operate multiple charter schools under a common structure and philosophy, attempting to implement promising educational practices on a large scale. Today, there are more than 130 CMOs nationwide, accounting for approximately 16 percent of all charter schools. The National Study of CMO Effectiveness is the first rigorous, nationwide examination of the effects of CMOs on student achievement and educational attainment.
Most CMOs seek to improve students’ academic skills as well as the likelihood that they will complete high school and enroll in college. As the study team documented in the first edition of the report, many CMOs have a significant positive impact on students’ academic achievement, while others have significant negative impacts. The new analysis shows that some CMOs are increasing students’ chances of graduating from high school and enrolling in college. Of the six CMOs for which relevant high school data were available, three have significant positive impacts on graduation; one of these CMOs increases the probability that its students graduate from high school in four years by 23 percentage points. Two other CMOs have positive, though not statistically significant, impacts on graduation. The remaining CMO has a large, statistically significant negative impact, reducing students’ graduation probability by 22 percentage points.
Of the four CMOs with data on postsecondary enrollment, two have large positive impacts, while the other two did have any noticeable impact. The two CMOs with the largest positive impacts on high school graduation also demonstrate positive, statistically significant impacts on postsecondary enrollment, increasing the likelihood of college entry by 21 and 23 percentage points, respectively.
“High school graduation and enrollment in college are important predictors of long-term outcomes throughout adulthood,” said senior researcher Joshua Haimson of Mathematica. “This new report indicates that some CMOs are positively affecting these outcomes.”
The impacts on high school graduation and college enrollment do not always align with test-score impacts. Although data on graduation- and college-enrollment impacts are available only for a few CMOs, these findings highlight the need for more research on how CMOs affect these as well as other important long-term outcomes, such as civic behavior, earnings and completion of postsecondary education.
Another primary goal of CMOs is to facilitate consistent results across multiple schools. The updates to the report include an analysis of school-level impacts, indicating that many CMOs produce consistently positive school-by-school results. Among the 18 CMOs with impact estimates for two or more middle schools, seven have uniformly positive results in math, and seven have uniformly positive impacts in reading. Conversely, five of the 18 CMOs have uniformly negative impacts in math, while one has uniformly negative impacts in reading. Most of the variation in school performance is due to differences between, rather than within, CMOs, suggesting that differences in the average effectiveness of CMOs are due to systematic factors rather than to random variation among schools. Differences within CMOs account for less than one-seventh of the school-level variation impacts in math and less than one-third of the school-level variation in reading.
The study showed that CMOs with positive impacts have schools that emphasize two practices: student behavior policies and intensive teacher coaching and monitoring. These findings improve the evidence base related to CMOs and can help guide decision making by educational policy leaders. An additional report, due for release in March 2012, will describe these promising practices in more detail.
Mathematica Policy Research and the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) conducted the study, with project management support from the NewSchools Venture Fund. Funding was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
About Mathematica: Mathematica Policy Research seeks to improve public well-being by conducting studies and assisting clients with program evaluation and policy research, survey design and data collection, research assessment and interpretation, and program performance/data management. Its clients include foundations, federal and state governments, and private-sector and international organizations. The employee-owned company, with offices in Princeton, NJ; Ann Arbor, MI; Cambridge, MA; Chicago, IL; Oakland, CA; and Washington, DC, has conducted some of the most important studies of education, health care, international, disability, family support, employment, nutrition, and early childhood policies and programs.
About the Center on Reinventing Public Education: CRPE at the University of Washington engages in independent research and policy analysis on a range of K-12 public education reform issues, including choice and charters, finance and productivity, teachers, urban district reform, leadership, and state and federal reform. CRPE's work is based on two premises: that public schools should be measured against the goal of educating all children well, and that current institutions too often fail to achieve this goal. Our research uses evidence from the field and lessons learned from other sectors to understand complicated problems and to design innovative and practical solutions for policymakers, elected officials, parents, educators, and community leaders.