The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) research group at Stanford University recently released an update report titled “National Charter School Study 2013,” a continuation of a study they started in 2009.
Perhaps the most important finding repeats and enlarges upon a finding in the original study; throughout the country, once students have spent several years in charter schools, they start to significantly outperform their traditional public school counterparts.
This graph from the report tells the tale. It shows that students go through an adjustment when they first enroll in charters and usually trail their traditional public school counterparts after spending only a year in their new school.
However, after students have spent two years in a charter, they have moved solidly ahead of their traditional public school counterparts, gaining the equivalent of about 14 extra days learning in math and 22 more days of learning in reading.
It only gets better for charter school students as their charter career continues. Students who have spent four or more years in their charter are more than 50 days ahead of their traditional public school counterparts in reading and around 43 days ahead in math.
This CREDO finding is particularly important for gaining insight into why some other reports don’t show much, if any, advantage for charter schools. Most charter reporting does not pay attention to the length of time students have been enrolled in a charter and thus wind up including a lot of first-year charter students in the analysis. That puts charter schools at a serious disadvantage, because they cannot perform miracles to overcome the often significant under-education that new charter school students bring with them. Thanks to the CREDO research, (whose findings in this area are replicated in other reports that use analytical methods I prefer to CREDO’s), we now know that reports which ignore charter effects over time cannot provide a very accurate picture of performance.
However, give charter schools sufficient time to work with students, and the results are dramatic.
So, why do some adults in Kentucky want to continue to block our kids from enjoying the charter school advantage that is now legal in 42 states?