Study Shows Charters Outperform on Measures of Productivity
March 22, 2018

For advocates working on charter equity issues, a powerful proof point comes from reports that, due to significant charter funding gaps, charter schools are often able to do more with less.

Recently, the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas released a study that examined this idea through the lens of productivity. In their report, Bigger Bang, Fewer Bucks, the researchers explored the differences in cost effectiveness and return on investment between charter schools and traditional public schools, comparing their impact to their level of financial investments.

Overall, the research found that public charter schools outperform traditional public schools on both productivity metrics. Charter schools were found to deliver on average an additional 4.34 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) points in reading per $1,000 funded, and 4.73 NAEP points in math, representing a productivity advantage of 32 and 33 percent over traditional public schools, respectively.

Likewise, their return on investment analysis showed further advantages for charter schools. On average, each dollar invested in a K-12 student’s education resulted in $4.67 in lifetime earnings for traditional public school students and $6.44 in lifetime earnings for charter school students, revealing a 38 percent advantage for charter school students. For students who only spent half of their K-12 years in a charter school, their educational experience resulted in $5.40 in benefits for each dollar invested, a 16 percent advantage.

Are you interested in exploring more research on charters or connecting with other advocates who are working on charter equity? Reach out.


Ryan Cantrell

Ryan is PIE Network's Senior Director, Charters, Choice, and Political Engagement


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