Charter Schools Make Gains, According to 26-State CREDO Study

June 25, 2013

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A new national study finds improvement in the overall performance of charter schools, driven in part by the presence of more high-performing charters and closure of under-performing charter schools. This study is a follow-up to the 2009 study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University.

"To understand the story of charter performance, it is important to move beyond a discussion of averages and look at how charters are performing with key subgroups of students. The results of this study show that charter schools across the nation are particularly benefiting low-income, disadvantaged, and special education students," said Jed Wallace, President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. "CCSA's own research highlights that historically disadvantaged populations are achieving at high levels in California's charter schools."

The National Charter School Study 2013 report also emphasizes the need for increased accountability provisions for charter schools. The report finds that charter schools' progress in raising student performance in both reading and mathematics as compared to the 2009 study is caused in part by the closure of eight percent of the charters in those states.

Wallace notes: " CCSA has taken the lead on accountability - supporting the growth and replication of high-performing schools and calling for the closure of chronically under-performing schools. We recently refined our accountability initiative, enhancing minimum performance expectations for schools in renewal." These refinements position CCSA for greater levels of assertiveness in discouraging the continued underperformance of low performing charter schools.

Some of the key findings from CREDO's National Charter School Study 2013:

  • The study finds that charters in the original 16 states have made progress in raising student performance in both reading and mathematics.
  • For California, the study reports improved results in comparison to the 2009 study in both reading and math. In reading, charter student academic growth was higher than that of peer traditional public school students. In math, charter effect size (representing the average effectiveness of charter schools in creating learning gains compared to traditional public schools) improved from -0.03 to -0.01.
  • Students in poverty, black students, and those who are English learners gain significantly more days of learning each year in both reading and math compared to their traditional public school peers. Performance differences between charter school students and their traditional public school peers were especially strong among black and Hispanic students in poverty and Hispanic students who are English learners in both reading and math.
  • Students who persist in charter schools for a longer period of time have stronger growth in both reading and math.

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