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 partly due to the complex structure of public and charter schools, making it difficult to compare.  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 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 were equal in math.

In an urban school setting, charter schools outperform their public schools in math and reading.  Some charter schools are entirely 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 schools’ formats vary significantly 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 students’ math scores 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, 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 look at that in a separate blog on our next posting.  This post will conclude this seven-part series—source: Prothero, Arianna. (2018) Charter Schools: 7 Common Questions, Answered.  Education Week, August 9, 2018.

From my Parenting on Purpose series, you will be interested in this post answering questions, Parenting on Purpose: Charter Schools & Questions, Pt. 1 – Dr. Rich Patterson (

the Washington Post has an article on Five Key Questions regarding charter schools.  Read that here, Five key questions to ask now about charter schools – The Washington Post

Yours for Better Parenting,