BENNETT: The Way New Jersey Elects School Boards Fails the Democracy TestJune 7, 2023
Real Social Justice Warriors Would Keep This TestJune 7, 2023
The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University just released a report called As A Matter of Fact: National Charter School Study III. The study assesses students’ academic growth in charter schools across the United States. It is CREDO’s most extensive research project ever, providing a comprehensive overview of U.S. charter school performance and offering insights for future K-12 public education options.
Here’s the take-away for New Jersey: we are one of nine states where learning gains in reading and math were significantly larger than for the 60,000 students who attend our public charters than for students enrolled in traditional public schools. One example: In Newark, NJ’s largest sector, the percentage of third-graders reading at grade-level at charter schools was twice as high as third-graders who attend district schools.
“More than ever before, educators and policymakers need reliable examples of strong student
learning that they can emulate to make up for past shortfalls,” said Dr. Margaret Raymond,
Director of CREDO at Stanford University. “The results of this study, along with the longer story
of improvement by charter schools, provide critical insights that can accelerate student learning
in more communities.
Given the impact on students, the Murphy Administration might want to rethink what a new analysis called its “continued and relentless assault on charter school growth.”
Here are the other outcomes from the CREDO study, which used student-level and school-level administrative data from 29 states, Washington, D.C., and New York City. The data window spans the school years from 2014–15 to 2018–19.
KEY STUDENT-LEVEL FINDINGS:
- Charter school students have an average of 16 more days of learning in reading and 6
more days in math in a school year compared to their matched peers in traditional public
- In charter schools, Black and Hispanic students, as well as students in poverty, have
stronger growth than their traditional public school peers. However, gains are not equal to
their white peers, creating learning gaps for many students.
- Across the three CREDO national charter school studies, annual charter student learning
in reading has risen by 22 days; math learning has increased by 23 days.
- Charter Management Organization-affiliated schools advance reading and math by 27
and 23 days, respectively, compared to traditional public schools, while stand-alone
charter schools add 10 extra days of reading progress a year. Math remains equivalent.
- Students receiving Special Education services who attend charter schools have smaller
learning gains than their matched peers in traditional public schools.
- Across the 31 data jurisdictions in the study, the spread between the state with the best
learning result and the worst outcome is 109 days of learning in reading and 120 days in
KEY SCHOOL-LEVEL FINDINGS:
- Charter schools enroll and educate more diverse and academically challenged students
than local traditional public schools.
- 36% of charter schools now have stronger annual gains than their local traditional public
school in both reading and math, while weaker gains than traditional public-school
alternatives have shrunk to 17% in reading and 25% in math.
- More than 1,000 charter schools provide “gap-busting” learning with equitable progress
across minority, poverty, and English language learner students relative to their more
advantaged peers and create school-wide achievement that exceeds state averages.
- The improvement in student learning in charter schools comes primarily from existing
schools improving over time; positive learning gains from newly opened charter schools
are a smaller influence.
- Stronger gains relative to traditional public schools are found in elementary, middle, and
high schools but not multi-level schools.
- Charter Management Organizations open new network schools that are stronger in
reading and math than the typical charter school in our study, demonstrating their ability
to scale academically successful schools.