ANN ARBOR, Mich. — University of Michigan researchers will become the latest group to study Michigan charter public schools, saying they want to learn how effective the schools are compared to conventional schools, and what makes them effective, according to Michigan Public Radio.

Brian Jacob, a U-M professor and one of the lead researchers, said the study will track student performance over time, including standardized test scores, graduation rates and college enrollment rates, MPR reported.

The report noted that past research on charters has been called “apples to oranges,” because charter school enrollment is voluntary, a factor that may make the charter school population different from the traditional classroom population. Jacob told MPR that the U-M study will compare students who applied to a charter and “won” a seat through the school lottery with students who applied but did not win a seat.

A similar research approach has been used in Boston and Chicago.

Researchers also will study such things as length of school day and year, curriculum, instructional practices and other policies and programs, MPR reported.

The Michigan Charter School Research Project will last two years, with data collection expected to begin this summer, according to MPR.

Michigan Public Radio, “U of M to study effectiveness of Michigan’s charter schools,” June 8, 2011

Michigan Education Digest, “Charter schools begin to specialize,” Sept. 1, 2010