What Works Clearinghouse Reviews Study On The Impact Of Charter Schools

September 28, 2012

This randomized matched controlled study compares the impact of charter schools to public school middle school and high school student’s achievement, high school graduation rates, and post-secondary enrollment rates. In general the finds little to indicate charter school middle school students out performed public school students in the key areas of state math, reading, science, or social studies. The results for high school student’s achievement and graduation rates were also not significantly different between charter schools and the control groups.

The study did find a positive relationship for charter schools on student math achievement for those students attending schools having a comprehensive behavior policy and suggests positive student math outcomes for teachers receiving intensive coaching. The research finds a strong correlation between schools that produce positive impacts in one subject also produced positive impacts in other subjects. Overall, there was great variation in the performance across charter schools with nearly equal numbers of high performing charter schools and low performing schools. The study does not find important impacts for the use of uniform curriculum, extended instructional hours, frequent formative assessment, or performance compensation.

Citation: Furgeson, J., Gill, B., Haimson, J., Killewald, A., McCullough, M., Nichols-Barrer, I., . . . Lake, R. (2012). Charter-school management organizations: Diverse strategies and diverse student impacts. Report prepared by Mathematica Policy Research and the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.