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Charter School Achievement Data

Links to various reports & studies highlighting charter school achievement across the U.S.

December 2019

A Good Investment: The Updated Productivity of Public Charter Schools in Eight U.S. Cities, by DeAngelis et al., University of Arkansas, April 2019
Lifetime earnings for students attending charter schools are four- to six-times the amount of money invested in their education. On average, they’ll reap .37 for every dollar in charter schools and .41 for every dollar in traditional public schools.

Charter Schools Bright Spot in Disturbing Schools Report, by Will Flanders, RightWisconsin, Oct. 30, 2019
Per NAEP scores, Milwaukee’s charter schools are performing much better than traditional Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) district schools. In 4th grade math, Milwaukee charter schools scored 235 , close to the state average for 4th graders of 242. MPS scored a 212.

Apples to Apples, The Definitive Look at School Test Scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin for 2019, by Will Flanders, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty
Milwaukee's 24 independent public charters outperform MPS by 8.2 % in math and the 13 district public charters outperform traditional MPS schools by 13 percent in math.

Student Achievement in Florida’s Charter Schools: A Comparison of the Performance of Charter School Students with Traditional Public School Students, Florida Department of Education, March 2019
Florida's annual charter report showed that in 89% of comparisons, African American students in charter schools performed better than African American students in traditional public schools

DC Graduation Rate Holds Steady in 2019, Despite Drop in Traditional School System, by Perry Stein, The Washington Post, Nov. 8, 2019
D.C Charters are college & career pipelines and consistently graduate more seniors than traditional public schools (76.4 % compared to 65.1%)

DC’s Public Charter Schools, DC Public Charter School Board, Feb. 2019
In Washington, DC, charter-school enrollment has increased by nearly 60% since 2009. DC’s public charter schools educate a student body that is 75% African American and 44% at-risk, with both populations outperforming traditional public schools.

Let the Numbers Have their Say, Evidence on Massachusetts’ Charter Schools, by Thomas J. Kane, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2018
Thomas Kane, a Harvard Graduate School of Education professor stated that “the oversubscribed charter schools in the Boston area are closing one half of the Black-White achievement gap in math and roughly one fifth of the Black-White achievement gap in English.”

Charters Continue to Close the Proficiency Gap, New York City Charter School Center, Aug. 26, 2019
New York City charter students have shown greater improvements than their traditional school counterparts, showing 63 additional days of learning in math, and 23 days in reading.

What We’re Learning: Nashville’s Charter Schools, Scarlett Family Foundation, Jan. 23, 2019
The two highest achieving charter elementary schools in Tennessee almost doubled the district’s overall student achievement. Purpose Prep had 57% of students achieve on track or mastered for ELA and 65% for math; Nashville Classical had 49% and 55% respectively

Get the Facts: Charter Public Schools Change Lives, Here’s How, Illinois Network of Charter Schools, 2019
In Chicago, charter students have a 7.2% college enrollment rate compared to 2.2% of similar high school students in traditional public schools. Charter students have a higher completion of college coursework with 21.4% completing at least 4 semesters compared to 13.0% of traditional public school students

The Charter Effect, by Mary Neiderberger, PublicSource, Aug. 14, 2017Based on academic performance, Downtown-based City Charter High School stands out as having the most impressive record of achievement among charter schools in Allegheny County, and among all schools in the City of Pittsburgh, with a school performance profile score of 89.8. In Pittsburgh, City Charter High School enrolls 85% of its students from the Pittsburgh Public Schools and still has the highest-achieving as it outscores all of the Pittsburgh district schools. In addition, the graduation rate at City Charter, which is 97 percent, exceeds all of the Pittsburgh district high schools, whose graduation rates range from 96.5 percent at Pittsburgh CAPA to 63 percent at Westinghouse.

Historical AzMERIT Dashboard, Arizona Charter Schools Association, 2015-2018 Data
AzMERIT scores released last month showed public charter students outperformed by 9 percentage points the state average among students who took the English/Language Arts portion of the test. In terms of Mathematics, charter students exceeded the state average by 6 percentage points. Charter students of every race and ethnicity, as well as low-income, Limited English Proficiency and Special Education subgroup, scored better than the statewide average of their peers on AzMERIT.

School Performance, Colorado League of Charter Schools, 2019
According to U.S. News and World Report, seven of the top ten Colorado high schools in 2017 were charter schools. Seven of the top 10 public schools with the highest SAT scores in Colorado in 2017 were charter public schools according to the Colorado Department of Education SAT school results.

Charters Up Close: Kids First, California Charter Schools Association, 2019
Across the state of California, charter schools are increasing student learning for low-income and minority youth. Research proves charter school students gain extra weeks and months of learning annually. The Los Angeles charter school sector is one of the strongest in the nation. Oakland charter school students are outperforming their peers in traditional district schools.

The Nation’s Report Card, Public, Private, and Charter Schools Dashboard, National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), 2019
Although 2019 NAEP results did not show significant growth in 4th and 8th grade math and reading achievement nationally, the data shows that charter schools do a measurably better job of educating low-income African American and Hispanic students than their traditional public school counterparts.

Poor children are still left behind in DCPS schools, by David Osborne and Tressa Pankovits, The Washington Post (Dec. 6, 2019)
The city’s annual PAARC test results confirm what we saw on the NAEP. In wards 5, 7 and 8, which have the highest concentrations of poor children, 22 of the top-performing 23 schools were charters. The one DCPS school in the top 23, McKinley Tech High School, selects its students. The charter schools vastly outperform DCPS schools in these three wards — roughly doubling DCPS’s percentage of students who score a 4 or 5 (meeting or exceeding expectations).

From Rising Tide: Charter School Market Share and Student Achievement, by David Griffith, Fordham Institute, Sept. 26, 2019

1. In large urban areas, higher charter market share is associated with significant achievement gains for black and Hispanic students.
2. In suburban and rural areas, higher charter market share is associated with significant achievement gains for Hispanic students, and black students in rural districts also see gains.
3. There is no evidence that higher charter market share is associated with achievement gains for white students.

Study: Maryland charter students’ gains outpace those at traditional schools; black, Hispanic pupils benefit most, by Jean Marbella, Baltimore Sun, Jul 16, 2019
A new study has found that students at Maryland charter schools, especially those who are black or Hispanic, have on average made greater academic progress than their counterparts in traditional public schools.

Charter School Performance in Maryland 2019, Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Stanford University, 2019.

CREDO found that "In the last school year of the study, 2016-2017, students in Baltimore’s public charter schools gained an additional 47 days of reading and an astronomical 59 days of math achievement. These additional days of achievement are not due to more physical time in school but done in the same 180 days required of all public school students.
(Note: Credo has found several states and cities’ charter schools outperforming traditional public schools. However, we have concerns about their methodology that underestimates the effects of charter schools because of their use of “virtual twin” methodology. For more on this topic, please see CER’s brief on this topic here:

CER Survey of America’s Charter Schools
2014 report highlights the environment and conditions charter schools function in, which lead to achievement

The Productivity of Public Charter Schools, July 2014
A University of Arkansas study reveals charter schools use public dollars far more efficiently than traditional public schools. For every ,000 invested, eighth grade charter students achieved on average an additional 17 points in math and 16 points in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Louisiana Charter School Achievement, August 2013
Part of CREDO’s state by state look at charter school achievement, results show Louisiana charter school students learning more in a school year than traditional students. While CER finds flaws in CREDO’s methodology, local instead of national achievement comparisons, makes results more comparable and therefore more reliable.

D.C. Charter School Achievement on DC-CAS, July 2013
-Additional Commentary and Data on D.C. Charter Schools, Matthew Ladner
D.C. public schools showing showing improvement on standardized test, but charter schools improving at much faster rate

Illinois Charter School Achievement, June 2013
Students in Chicago charter schools higher-achieving than traditional school counterparts.

Michigan Charter Schools Outperform Traditional Public Students, May 2013
CREDO state report finds Michigan charter school students gaining at a faster rate than traditional school students. Provides more detail on CER’s critique of their methodology.

Massachusetts Charter School Achievement, March 2013
Six-year study showing charter school’s surpassing traditional schools, especially in Boston.

New York City Charter School Achievement, February 2013
Continued success of New York City charter schools compared with conventional public schools in the Big Apple.

CMO’s Positive Impact on Student Learning, November 2011
Report by Mathematica Policy Research found that charters operated by a Charter Management Organization are generally more effective managerially, academically, and operationally.

CER Fact-Checking Charter School Achievement, October 2010
CER-issued document to counteract the first CREDO report. Contains great information on charter school achievement, demand, and demographics

Hoxby and New York Charters Affecting Achievement and Closing Achievement Gap, 2009
Dr. Caroline Hoxby examines charter schools in New York City to find that they are closing the achievement gap for students the longer they attend a charter school.