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NEPC Review: Charting New Territory: Tapping Charter Schools to Turn Around the Nation's Dropout Factories (Center for American Progress, June 2011)

Charting New Territory: Tapping Charter Schools to Turn Around the Nation’s Dropout Factories argues for a more prominent role for charter operators in turning around perennially low-performing high schools. However, the report’s ultimate findings and conclusions are out of proportion to the strength of the research evidence on school turnarounds, charter schools, and charter management organizations, as well as to the data on which the analysis is based. As such, its recommendations are of little utility in guiding policy on charter management organizations as tools for turning around struggling schools. Further, the report fails to justify the general practice of converting chronically low-performing schools to charter status. Instead, the report reproduces familiar arguments for market-based school reforms that are grounded in little empirical evidence and that use our nation’s neediest schools—those serving primarily poor children and children of color—as laboratories for educational experiments, notwithstanding existing evidence that the experiments will not succeed. In doing so, the report distracts policymakers and practitioners from more fundamental and worthwhile questions about the types of policies that can secure the necessary conditions for all students to succeed.

Suggested Citation: Trujillo, T. (2011). Review of “Charting New Territory: Tapping Charter Schools to Turn Around the Nation’s Dropout Factories.” Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from

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