Study: Charters do more with less

Public charter schools produce similar or higher test scores with much less money, concludes a productivity analysis by researchers at the University of Arkansas’ department of education reform. Overall, charters are 40 to 41 percent more cost effective in reading and math compared to traditional public schools, the study concluded.cover-productivity-of-charters

The return on investment is almost 3 percent higher if a student spends one year in a public charter school and a 19 percent higher if a student spends half of their K-12 education (6.5 years) in a charter school.

Researchers analyzed National Assessment of Education Progress reading and math scores and data from CREDO studies. They controlled for students’ poverty and special education status.

Walton Family Foundation, which supports school choice, funded the study, but did not play any role in designing it, researchers say.

Massachusetts has some of the most effective charter schools in the nation, especially in Boston, yet the state Senate refused to raise the cap on charter seats, writes Jim Stergios in the Boston Herald. It’s like the old segregationists standing in the schoolhouse door, he writes.

Update: The productivity comparison is unfair because charters educate fewer English Learners and special ed students, who generate more funding, responds the National School Boards Association.  In addition, “traditional public schools are much more likely than charter schools to provide costly services such as transportation and extracurricular activities such as athletics, band, theater, and civic clubs.”

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Comments

  1. The problem for any analysis like this is that the metrics being used are all terrible, various state tests are weak, meaningless, often gamed. Yes Common Core eventually addressing this blah blah.

    Every charter high school, and by extension corresponding charter school pipelines for whatever section of K-12, should aim to have at least one black* kid per year get the top score on the AP Calculus or AP Chemistry exam.

    One. Black. Kid.

    Per school, that can’t be that hard if the schools are actually accomplishing anything, serving their demographics, urban school reform, etc. Yet it’s not happening, not even close.

    *Same thing with Hispanics too, as charter schools are by no means pulling their weight, though for other underrepresented minority groups overall numbers are so small that you can’t single out every school in every city where there just might be students in the first place.

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