Are Bad Schools Immortal? The Scarcity of Turnarounds and Shutdowns in Both Charter and District Sectors
David Stuit Thomas B. Fordham Institute
December 2010


From the Executive Summary:

“This study investigates the successes of the charter and district sectors in eliminating bad schools via dramatic turnarounds in performance and/or shutdowns. It identified 2,025 low-performing charter and district schools across ten states, each of which is home to a sizable number of charter schools.6 These particular schools were tracked from 2003-04 through 2008-09 to determine how many turned around, shut down, or remained low-performing.

What did results show? A dismal state of affairs. In all ten states, the charter sector has done a slightly better job of eliminating low-performing schools, but neither sector has cause for celebration (see Figure ES-1 on page 11). Seventy-two percent of the original low-performing charter schools remained in operation, and remained low-performing, five years later, compared with 80 percent of district schools.

Few low-performing schools in either sector—barely 1 percent—managed to dramatically improve their academic performance over this five-year period, and fewer than 10 percent made even moderate gains. Charter schools were not statistically more or less likely to turn around than their district peers.”