NAPCS: Charters boost achievement

Charter school students outperform similar students in district-run public schools, according to a National Alliance for Public Charter Schools analysis of research in the last three years.

Three national studies and ten studies from major regions across the country since 2010 found positive academic performance results for students in public charter schools compared to their traditional public school peers, suggesting a strong upward trend . . .

Since 2010, only one study, conducted in Utah, has found neutral or negative results for charter schools, NAPCS reports.

NAPC: States improve charter laws

Minnesota, Maine, Washington, Colorado, and Florida have the strongest charter school laws, according to Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws, an annual report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Georgia and Washington passed charter laws in 2012,, said Nina Rees, the president and chief executive officer of NAPCS.

“The track record of enacting [charter school] initiatives through the ballot box hasn’t been very positive, so the fact that we were able to do so in Georgia and enact a law in Washington state after four attempts that failed before makes 2012 an historic one,” she said.

Hawaii, Idaho, and Missouri lifted caps on charter school growth, the report noted. Ten states expanded the types of entities that can authorize charter schools or passed quality control measures to help high-quality charter schools grow. Connecticut, Hawaii, and Utah improved charter school funding.

Charter schools enroll 2 million students

Two million students now attend charter schools, a 13 percent increase in one year, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. More than 400,000 students remain on wait lists.

Over 500 new charter schools opened this fall, raising the total to 5,600 schools.

Some 150 public charter schools closed for reasons that include poor performance, low enrollment and financial problems.

The Public Charter School Dashboard has more national and state information.

Cash for 'clunker' schools

Inspired by the feds’ “Cash for Clunkers” program, which Congress wants to give another $2 billion, Brooks Garber of National Alliance for Public Charter Schools calls for using turnaround funds to replace clunker schools with new schools.

Instead of just pouring countless resources into “turning around” certain schools, we should use the federal school turnaround resources to help create new high quality successful schools, especially replicating public charter schools that are already excelling.

Of course, the new schools will have to educate the old students.

Charter performance

Charter school students don’t perform as well as students in traditional public schools, concludes Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States, released by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). However, low-income students and students who aren’t fluent in English do better in charter schools. Special education students do about the same.

Overall, the report found 17 percent of charters outperform traditional public schools, 46 percent are about the same and 37 percent are less effective.

Students do better in charter schools over time. While first year charter school students on average experienced a decline in learning, students in their second and third years in charter schools saw a significant reversal, experiencing positive achievement gains.

Elementary and middle school charters are effective; high school charters lag behind.

There were very significant differences between states.  States that cap the growth of charter schools had lower performance, as did those with multiple charter authorizers. Denver, Chicago and Louisiana charter schools were the most effective; Ohio charters did the worst.

On average, charter schools receive 78 percent of the funding of district-run public schools. In seven of 16 states studied, charters receive no facilities funding so they must use operating funds to pay for classroom space.

In response to the report, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools called for requiring annual performance targets in charter contracts and clear legal authority to close underperforming charters. The alliance also wants to hold charter authorizers accountable for the performance of schools they approve to make it harder for poorly conceived schools to shop around for a lax authorizer.

National Alliance will be releasing A New Model Law for Supporting High-Quality Growth for Public Charter Schools next week.

The alliance criticized some aspects of the report, such as the comparability of charter and non-charter students and limited data on high school achievement. A recent RAND report found charter students earned similar test scores to non-charter students but were more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college.

Center for Education Reform analysis the strength of states’ charter laws in Race to the Top for Charter Schools.