A new study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) shows 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 is the largest CREDO has seen in any city or state thus far. These results signify that these schools could serve as a model and have an opportunity to transfer knowledge to not only the rest of the state but to the national sector as well,” said Edward Cremata, Research Associate and co-author of the Massachusetts report.
The study compares academic gains between charter and district students and controls for any variables in the data by comparing charter students with district students from the same demographic backgrounds. It also compares charters against the districts schools the students formerly attended.
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.
“Boston and the state should be proud of the work its charter public schools are doing,” Kevin Andrews, Chairman of the Boston Charter Alliance and Headmaster of Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, said. “Our schools are raising the bar academically, and are showing that employing the right strategies can transform urban systems and the lives of all children who come to our public schools every day to learn.”
The study produced results that were also positive on a statewide basis, although not as significant as in Boston. CREDO found that on a statewide basis students attending Massachusetts charter schools gain more learning in a year than their district school peers, amounting to about one and a half more months of learning per year in reading and two and a half more months of learning per year in math.
The academic progress accelerated the longer the students remained in charters, the study showed.
“This study shows that a high quality chartering process and a strong accountability system produces high quality schools,” said Marc Kenen, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association. “Massachusetts has created a system that works extremely well for children, particularly in high need communities like Boston.”
Massachusetts charter public schools have freedoms (in structure, mission, and academic program) that district schools don’t. In exchange, they are heavily scrutinized. The state’s application and oversight practices have been rated the toughest—and best—in the nation. Charters are evaluated annually and must renew every five years. If they do not meet certain standards, they can be shut down. Charter finances are also subject to independent review.
“It’s unfortunate that this study comes at a time when the doors are closed in Boston to new charters,” Kenen said. “It’s time to lift the caps on quality. Charter public schools are making a dramatic difference in the lives of children, and are providing strategies that can be replicated in district schools to improve public education for all children.”
Legislation filed last month 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.
To download a copy of the state report visit: http://credo.stanford.edu