California’s best charter schools don’t get the most philanthropic dollars, concludes a study by Cato’s Andrew Coulson.
American Indian Public Charters‘ students score more than four standard deviations above the norm on the challenging California Standards Test, based on Coulson’s measure of effect size, yet the schools rank 21st in donor funding.
Oakland Charter Academies rank second in performance and 27th in funding, Wilder’s Foundation is third in achievement and 39th in funding and Rocketship Education is fourth in achievment and 10th in funding. All outperform Whitney High and Lowell High, district-run schools that select students based on high test scores, according to Coulson’s effect-size analysis.
Coulson also looked at the number of black and Hispanic students passing AP exams, excluding foreign languages: “The correlations between charter networks’ AP performance and their grant funding are negative, though negligible in magnitude.”
Aspire Public Schools is the number one recipient of charter-school philanthropy in the state. It’s been around for a long time: Founder Don Shalvey, a former district superintendent, started the first charter school in the state. But Aspire ranks only 23rd among the state’s charters in student performance.
Philanthropists are replicating the charter schools with well-connected leaders, not necessarily those with the highest achievement, the study concludes.