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Charter Schools: Good News for Students

• Sam Duell

This is the first post in a three-part series for National Charter Schools Week. View the second post, Charter Schools: Still Growing!and the third post, Charter Schools: Increasing quantity and quality in states.

Look at Florida. The Florida Department of Education published a performance study in March of this year, and the news is good for charter schools.

When they compared charter schools with traditional schools, charter schools demonstrated higher rates of grade level performance in 65 of 77 comparisons. In 20 of 22 comparisons, charter school students demonstrated smaller achievement gaps. The percentage of students making learning gains was higher in charter schools in 82 of the 96 comparisons. When we look at the state’s A-F school grades, we see that 55 percent of charters scored an A or B, compared to 45 percent of traditional public schools.

Florida A-F School Grades: Charter and Traditional Public School


Look at urban charters. The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University published their Urban Charter School Study in 2015. They found that attending a charter school can be like adding dozens of days of learning to a school year. In the study, Hispanic students attending urban charters and learning English as a second language grew by almost 1.5 years in Reading and Math in a single year. This means urban charters are closing achievement gaps.

CREDO's 2015 Urban Charter School Survey


Look at the research. The National Charter School Resource Center, which is funded by the US Department of Education, reviewed five academic studies of charter performance and found:

  • Charter students overall perform better in math and reading.
  • Low-income charter students perform better in math and reading.
  • Charter students with low prior achievement perform better.
  • Minority charter students perform better.
  • Urban charter students perform better and non-urban charter students perform worse.

Not all charter schools are created equal, and some charter schools don’t perform as well as other public schools. But the research is consistent: charter schools are often beneficial for students, especially the students needing them the most.

About the author

Sam Duell

Before Sam joined ExcelinEd as the Associate Policy Director for Charter Schools, he was a special education teacher, a school and central office administrator, the Executive Director of School Choice at Oklahoma’s department of education and the Managing Director of OPSRC’s Education Collaborative. In every position, Sam worked creatively to meet student needs. He founded the Integrated Support Program at Fischer Middle School in San Jose, California to increase the number and percentage of students with learning disabilities who have access to the general education classroom. He was the first administrator of Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, the authorizer for online schools in Oklahoma. And he co-founded a statewide afterschool network called the Oklahoma Partnership for Expanded Learning to organize and advocate for expanded learning opportunities after school and during the summer. Sam’s current interests include charter schools and their role in a functional, thriving democracy.