Charter elementary schools outperform traditional public schools in reading and math and charter middle schools do better in math, according to The Effect of Charter Schools on Student Achievement, an analysis of 40 high-quality studies by economists Julian Betts and Emily Tan of the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE). Overall, the gains are “modest but positive.”
Middle-school reading scores and high school math and reading were about the same.
Charter school effects vary dramatically, the meta-analysis found. Urban charter schools perform better than suburban or rural charters, especially at the middle and high school levels. In particular, Boston charter schools performed significantly better than traditional public schools; New York City charters also showed strong gains.
KIPP middle-school students showed “significant and large improvements in both math and reading.” A student who started at the 50th percentile could expect to move to the 59th percentile in math and the 54th percentile in reading in a single year.