Charter students show greater learning gains in reading and similar gains in math compared to students in traditional public schools, concludes the National Charter School Study 2013 by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO).
The neediest students show the strongest gains: Low-income students, blacks and English Learners “gain significantly more days of learning each year in both reading and math” if they attended charter schools rather than traditional public schools, the study found.
More charter schools are high performers and some underperforming charters have closed, concludes CREDO, which analyzed data from 26 states and New York City.
“The results reveal that the charter school sector is getting better on average and that charter schools are benefiting low-income, disadvantaged, and special education students,” says Dr. Margaret Raymond, director of CREDO.
Charter school enrollment has grown among students who are in poverty, black students, and Hispanic students, the study found.
Charters do the best for the worst students, according to an MIT analysis reported by the Boston Globe.
Lower-income students who performed poorly on tests while attending traditional public schools did much better after enrolling in charter schools. Moreover, their improvement was greater than fellow charter students who had previously tested well in traditional public schools.
In other words, those most in need of educational improvement tended to benefit the most from charter schools.
A string of recent studies have found urban charter schools produce learning gains, while suburban and rural charters have mixed results.