Cream Skimming in Texas: A Comparison of the Characteristics of Students Entering High-Profile Charter Schools in the Same Zip Code
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While charter schools have been touted as being far more effective than public school in improving student outcomes, few studies have examined how differences in the characteristics of students entering charter schools and public schools may create an "apples-oranges" comparison. This study uses student level data in Texas to compare the test scores, economically disadvantaged status, English Language Learner (ELL) status, and special needs status of students entering five high-profile charter organizations and public schools within the same zip code as the charter schools under study. Using six years of data, this study shows students entering the five charter organizations had substantially greater mathematics and reading scores than students from a set of comparison schools-traditional public schools located within the same zip code as he charter schools. Further, a lower percentage of the students entering charter schools were identified as ELL or special needs as students entering public schools in the same zip codes. Finally, the percentage of students entering charter schools identified as economically disadvantaged was roughly equal to the percentage of students entering public schools in the same zip code identified as economically disadvantaged.