One criticism of past charter studies is that the data is skewed because they compare apples to oranges; since charter school participation is voluntary, some worry the kids who sign up for charter schools have different characteristics than those who attend traditional schools.
So the new U of M study will only look at those students who applied to a charter and won the school's lottery and those who applied but lost the lottery. (This approach has been used in studies in Boston and Chicago.)
Brian Jacob is one of the study’s lead researchers. He says they plan to track the students’ performances over time to "get a sense of how effective, and in which ways charter schools are effective." They plan to look at standardized test scores,graduation rates, and college enrollment among other things. The study will also look at the charters schools themselves:
"Everything from their length of school day and school year to specific curriculum or instructional practices, and the idea there is try to assess whether there are certain policies or programs that seem to be associated with the most effective charter schools."
Jacob says they plan to reach out to the more than 200 charter schools in the state soon to discuss specifics of the study. The Michigan Charter School Research Project will last two years, with data collection expected to begin this summer.