Dr. Rich Patterson

Charter Schools:  Are They More Effective? – Part 7/7

There is a lot of debate surrounding whether charter schools are more effective than traditional public schools.  The answer to the question depends on who you are asking and is partly due to the complex structures where public schools and charter schools can hardly be compared.  The quality of both varies, they follow different state laws and guidelines than public schools, and their effectiveness depends on who is in charge, much like anything else.  However, what does the research say?  Let’s take a quick look at some of the facts.

Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes or CREDO, has done a couple of studies, which certainly have their critics, but help to make a point.  In 2009 a national CREDO found that charter school students were behind their public school counterparts in reading and math.  However, in 2013, CREDO found that charter schools outperformed district schools in reading and that they were equal in math.

In an urban school setting, charter schools outperform their public schools in both math and reading.  Some charter schools are completely computer based where the students do the work online at home.  In 2015 CREDO found that the full-time virtual charter schools fell dramatically behind public schools.  So like a lot of questions you might have, the answer is, “it depends” or at least you have to dig a bit further because both school’s format’s vary greatly along with educator effectiveness.

In 2017 CREDO found that charter schools managed by for-profit companies performed far worse compared to students in charter schools run by nonprofit groups.  One achievement area of concern for everyone has been the math scores of students in both sectors.  A study done in 2014 from the University of California, San Diego showed that charter schools were producing higher scores in math.  Overall, then it is safe to say that the results vary on both sides.

It is worth examining how students from both sectors do after they graduate from the school, regardless of the format.  Some studies say charter students do better after high school and others say they don’t do as well.  So how do you decide?  Let’s take a look at that in a separate blog on our next posting.  This will conclude this seven-part series from which the information was taken from Source:  Prothero, Arianna. (2018) Charter Schools: 7 Common Questions, Answered.  Education Week, August 9, 2018.