U of A Study Controversy

- FAYETTEVILLE-- A University of Arkansas study is getting some national media attention- and some criticism. The U of A study compared charter and traditional public schools to see which was more cost efficient. The findings suggested that charter schools were more cost effective than public schools, but critics say the study was incomplete.
National public radio published a story quoting researchers disagreeing with the report's findings. Director for the Center for School Change, Joe Nathan was quoted in the story, and believes charter schools and traditional public schools can't be compared.
"I think there is a real problem trying to generalize district school performance and charter school performance when the differences among those schools are so enormous." Nathan said. Lead U of A researcher on the study, Patrick Wolf, says this was an early study, and they needed to lay the groundwork before moving forward.
"Well this is a pioneering study and when you do something for the first time, you have to sort of limit your scope." Wolf said.
But Nathan believes the best research brings the two together.
"The most helpful research looks at what are the characteristics of outstanding district schools and what are the characteristics of outstanding charter schools and then tries to bring together people who are working at different schools to help each other." Nathan said.
Wolf was actually planning on doing just that "In fact, that's going to be my next research project, I just got funding from the U.S Department of Education to do a study of charter schools." Wolf said.
Wolf welcomes the criticism on the report and believes discussion will lead to greater understanding.
"New research that brings new facts to the table certainly needs to be carefully scrutinized and considered but it also needs to be encouraged."

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