As advocates, educators, lawmakers, and parents work to identify successful and unsuccessful charter operators before they even open their doors, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released a new analysis that could provide a helpful bank of data.
The study, which uses data from the 2011-12 to 2014-15 school years, looks at 24 states, plus New York City and Washington, D.C.
The research presents two areas of analysis. The first focuses on the management or structure of the charter school—are they part of a network, and if so, how big is it—and its effect on student achievement. The second explores if there are differences in how well schools perform based on non-profit or for-profit status.
While dense, this report includes helpful data on student subgroup performance, highlighting impact on specific groups of students. Key findings from the research include the following:
- Charter school organizations have their strongest effects with traditionally underserved populations, such as black and Hispanic students.
- Charter school operators that hold non-profit status post significantly higher student academic gains than those with a for-profit orientation. For-profit operators have results that are, at best, equal to traditional public school students in reading and worse in math.
- Even after controlling for differences in student populations, the effectiveness of charter school organizations varies across states.
- Schools that contract with external vendors for much or all of the school operations post significantly lower results than network operators that maintain direct control over their operations.
- Online schools continue to present significantly weaker academic performance in reading and math compared with their counterparts in conventional schools.