NYC Education Lottery

by NYC Firm Schools on September 25, 2009

NYC Students from every school type often have to deal with an element of luck in their education, but no where does that element play such an important role as it does when a lottery is called for. In New York, most of the city’s Charter Schools admit students by lottery, which leaves many students with no choice at all.

The NY Times recently discussed the trends facing lottery students in charter schools in NYC and came up with some surprising and not so surprising conclusions.

Students who entered lotteries and won spots in New York City charter schools performed better on state exams than students who entered the same lotteries but did not secure charter school seats, according to a study by a Stanford University economist being released Tuesday.

Charter schools, which are privately run but publicly financed, have been faring well on standardized tests in recent years. But skeptics have discounted their success by accusing them of “creaming” the best students, saying that the most motivated students and engaged parents are the ones who apply for the spots.

Of course, there is a higher percentage of students applying to charter schools who are motivated and lucky enough to have an engaged and supportive family. Students who are not motivated and who do not have supportive families are simply not going to apply to as many schools. The lottery consists of students who applied, not all school-aged children in the entire city.

The real surprise in the results that came back was the future performance of students who did not win the lottery vs those who did. Was the increased level of performance due to the better education in Charter Schools, or the poor education in Public Schools, or an indicator of a student that felt unlucky and left behind?

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