Mercedes Schneider reports on a study funded by the Race to the Top program of the U.S. Department of Education and the Walton Family Foundation which concludes that state takeovers of low-performing schools in Tennessee made no difference. The schools remained low performing. That is, the takeovers failed. The schools taken over did not vault from the bottom of state rankings to the top. The so-called Achievement School District failed. The study can be found here.

This finding is no surprise to readers of this blog, as Gary Rubinstein has followed the progress–or lack thereof–of the ASD since its inception and has regularly reported that the low performing schools were not making any gains. Rubinstein said after six years of watching that the ASD was “a colossal failure.”

This is the abstract of the study by Ron Zimmer, Gary T. Henry, and Adam Kho:

In recent years, the federal government has invested billions of dollars to reform chronically low-performing schools. To fulfill their federal Race to the Top grant agreement, Tennessee implemented three turnaround strategies that adhered to the federal restart and transformation models: (a) placed schools under the auspices of the Achievement School District (ASD), which directly managed them; (b) placed schools under the ASD, which arranged for management by a charter management organization; and (c) placed schools under the management of a district Innovation Zone (iZone) with additional resources and autonomy. We examine the effects of each strategy and find that iZone schools, which were separately managed by three districts, substantially improved student achievement. In schools under the auspices of the ASD, student achievement did not improve or worsen. This suggests that it is possible to improve schools without removing them from the governance of a school district.

Schneider’s post includes additional quotations from the study.

And she finds it amusing, as do I, that the study was funded by the Walton Family Foundation, which is spending $200 million a year on new charters, every year. Add that to the $263 million that Betsy DeVos handed out from the U.S. Department of Education and that is a half billion a year to open new charters, from only two of the many sources committed to privatization.

After 25 years of the charter “experiment,” there is a growing body of evidence that they do not have a “secret sauce,” other than selection and attrition. That is not a replicable model for American education.