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Good News from Boston Charter School Study


Charter students consistently perform much better on math and reading than public school students, according to a new MIT study in Boston. What’s more, this achievement gap grows the longer the students stay in school. Boston Business Journal reports:

The researchers found a gain each year in the proficiency of middle school students’ on the MCAS of 12 percentage points in math and 6 percentage points in English language. In charter high schools, the gain was around 10 percentage points each year in both academic subjects.

Estimating the cumulative impact of charter school attendance, the researchers found that, by eighth grade, the middle school proficiency gap between the charter and non-charter students had risen to more than 30 points in math, and more than a dozen percentage points in English.

We tend to favor charter schools as a potentially important tool for education reformers, but we do so with reservations. Part of the problem has been coming to grips with the difficulty of measuring charters’ effects. For years, inconclusive studies were the rule, if not studies that showed charters providing no net benefits versus public schools. Earlier this year, a widely discussed study did show that poor and minority students tend to fare better in charters, but even this study came with several caveats and left plenty of room for debate.

This MIT study may move the needle another notch in charters’ favor—one more data point suggesting that, when done correctly, charter schools can significantly improve inner-city student performance.

[School building image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Anthony

    WRM, important consideration is “inconclusive studies were the rule….” It’s not either charters or public schools but equity and competence K-12 – getting there appears to be at issue.

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