A chart from the latest CREDO study about city charter schools shows that students at many charter schools make outsized gains in math. But in reading, charter school students tend fall behind more often, researchers found.
City students benefit from attending city charter schools, according to a new study — but the advantages are not universal.
The study, by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes, which analyzes charter school performance, concluded that city charter school students, on average, learn five more months of math each year than similar students in neighboring schools. In Harlem, where the charter school enrollment share is highest, the math gain was seven months, the researchers found.
And in reading, charter school students averaged one month's additional learning each year, the researchers found. All of the gains were measured by students' state test scores.
Yet within the sector, some schools did far better than the average — and others far worse. The study found that nearly two thirds of charter schools moved their students forward in math significantly farther than other schools in the area. But a full quarter of charter schools moved their students forward significantly less in reading.
A chart from a 2010 analysis that compared charter schools' performance by authorizer.
When a researcher with a penchant for crunching charter school data sat down to compare New York State's charter authorizers in 2010, her impetus wasn't merely academic.
For Jonas Chartock, then the director of one of three authorizers, who requested an analysis, the data was a matter of survival.
“At the time there was a real push by some politicians to eliminate SUNY as an authorizer,” said Chartock, who headed SUNY's Charter School Institute until early 2011.
Chartock asked Macke Raymond, a Stanford researcher who had just wrapped up a broad study of New York City's charter sector, to examine her school performance data based on which office had authorized it. Her comparison showed up as an attachment to one of several hundred Department of Education emails released last week in response to a teachers union's Freedom of Information Law request.
Raymond found that students at SUNY-authorized charter schools improved at a quicker pace than students at schools authorized by the State Education Department and the city Department of Education. At schools authorized by SED, she found, students actually lost ground over time.