June 25, 2013
Dominic Slowey
(781) 710-0014
Legislature Should “Lift the Caps on Quality”
BOSTON – Massachusetts charter public schools are accelerating the pace of learning at a rate that outpaces charters in almost every state across the country, according to a new study released today by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO).

CREDO found that children in Massachusetts charter public schools gain the equivalent of 36 more days of learning per year in reading and 65 more days of learning per year in math compared to demographically similar students who attend district schools. These findings put Massachusetts near the top nationally in both subjects. The academic gains were particularly striking among low-income, disadvantaged, and special education students, CREDO reported.

The CREDO report stated that charters across the country have made academic gains since its first study of the charter sector released in 2009. But, CREDO stated that Massachusetts and ten other states “deserve mention as states where charter school performance outpaced (traditional public school) growth” in reading and math. CREDO said gains in reading were “most notable” in Massachusetts, Colorado (Denver), the District of Columbia, and Minnesota. The results were strong for both existing and new charters. Massachusetts has added 25 new charter public schools since a 2010 law passed raising enrollment caps in low-performing districts.

“This indicates that a strong commitment to quality – and the ability to deliver it – exists at both the school and authorizer levels in these states,” the report stated.

“Massachusetts has some of the highest performing charter schools in the nation,” said Marc Kenen, Executive Director of the MCPSA. “Yet, in some of the lowest performing districts in the state, there is little or no room to expand because of arbitrary enrollment caps. Charters have proven their value and should not be prevented from offering high quality educational programs to more children across the Commonwealth. The Legislature should lift the caps on quality.”

Legislation currently before the Education Committee would eliminate charter caps in underperforming districts and create more room to open new charters all across the state. It would also provide targeted interventions in underperforming districts, and extend certain authorities granted to superintendents to turnaround schools and districts.

The legislation is part of a comprehensive effort to build on the state’s two-decade-old education reform effort raising academic standards, strengthening accountability and increasing parental choice.

This national study follows one CREDO released in February that focused solely on Massachusetts charters. The study found that Boston charter public schools are doing more to close race and income-based achievement gaps than any other group of public schools in America. The average growth rate of Boston charter students in math and reading was the largest CREDO had seen in any city or state. Boston charters provided a typical student with more than twelve months of additional learning per year in reading and thirteen months greater progress per year in math, the study showed.

At the school level, 83 percent of Boston charter schools showed significantly more positive learning gains than their district school peers in reading and math, and no Boston charter schools were found to have significantly lower learning gains. The academic progress accelerated the longer the students remained in charters, the study showed.

CREDO at Stanford University is the nation’s foremost independent analyst of charter school effectiveness. The 26-state study is the most comprehensive study ever conducted of charter school performance, comprised of records from more than 1.5 million charter students.

CREDO’s methodology was designed to eliminate statistical bias in the data, comparing academic gains between charter and district students and controlling for any variables by comparing charter students with district students from the same demographic backgrounds. It also compared charters against the districts schools the students formerly attended.

To download a copy of the CREDO report visit: