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Disadvantaged Students Benefit Most from Charter Schools

Jul 26, 2013 | Blog

Across the country, charter schools are playing an important role in providing educational opportunities for students from all backgrounds. New research from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University suggests that charter schools may be particularly effective in benefiting low-income students, students from communities of color, and English-language learners. These findings show promise for Washington state, as we begin the process of implementing high-quality public charter schools.

The National Charter School Study 2013 reveals that low-income African-American students in charter schools are improving significantly, gaining more days of learning than their traditional public school counterparts: an additional 29 days of learning in reading and 36 days in math in one school year.

The study also showed dramatic improvement for Hispanic English-language learners (ELL) over their traditional public school counterparts. Hispanic ELL students gained 50 additional days of learning. Low-income students, regardless of ethnic background, also performed well – gaining an additional 14 days of learning and 21 days in math when compared to low-income students in traditional public schools.

The Wall Street Journal said CREDO’s findings reveal that charter schools are “offering a new path of opportunity for low-income black and Hispanic students, and materially closing the achievement gap.”

In an Associated Press piece, CREDO Director Margaret Raymond said, “The results reveal that the charter school sector is getting better on average and that charter schools are benefiting low-income, disadvantaged and special-education students.” The AP piece speculated this was due to charter schools’ greater ability to direct resources toward groups with specific needs.

While not a “cure all” solution, high-quality public charter schools can help more students, including low-income students and students of color, do better in school.