Study Finds New Jersey Charter Public Schools Significantly Outperform Their District School Peers

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Stanford, CA- A new report released today by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that students in New Jersey charter public schools on average make larger learning gains in both reading and mathematics compared to their traditional district school peers.

New Jersey charter school students on average gain an additional two months of learning per year in reading and an additional three months of learning per year in math compared to their district school counterparts.

CREDO at Stanford University is the nation’s foremost independent analyst of charter school effectiveness. The NJ study analyzed five years of data, from 2007-2011 and six tested grades (3rd - 8th) and built on the methodology used for CREDO at Stanford’s 2009 national report, Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States.  The New Jersey report provides a first-ever in-depth examination of the results for charter schools in the state.

The CREDO at Stanford University New Jersey analysis found that 30 percent of the charter schools have significantly more positive learning gains than their traditional school counterparts in reading, while 11 percent of charter schools have significantly lower learning gains. In math, 40 percent of the charter schools studied outperform their counterparts and 13 percent perform worse. In comparison, CREDO’s 2009 national study of charter schools in 16 states found at that time that 17 percent of the charter schools had exceeded their district school counterparts’ growth .

A significant finding came from the results of the urban charter schools in the state. Students enrolled in urban charter schools in New Jersey learn significantly more in both math and reading compared to their traditional public school peers. In fact, charter students in Newark gain an additionalseven and a half months in reading per year and nine months per year in math compared to their traditional public school counterparts. Students enrolled in suburban charter schools also learn significantly more in both math and reading compared to their peers in traditional public schools; however, students inrural charter schools learn significantly less than their district school peers in both reading and math.

 “Charter schools in New Jersey, specifically in Newark, have some of the largest learning gains we have seen to date. These results demonstrate that charterschools can thrive in a constructive policy environment and prove to be a high-quality option for parents and students,” said Dr. Margaret Raymond, Director of CREDO at Stanford University.

In New Jersey, 61 percent of charter students are eligible for subsidized school meals, a proxy for low-income households. Thus, the impact of charter schools on the learning of students in poverty is important in terms of student outcomes. Both Black and Hispanic students inpoverty who are enrolled in charter schools show significantly better performance in reading and math compared to Black and Hispanic students in poverty in traditional public schools. 

“The results in our report confirm that New Jersey charter school leaders and teachers show a commitment to addressing the needs of Black and Hispanic students in poverty,” said Devora Davis, Research Manager and co-author of the New Jersey report.   

To download a copy of the state report visit:

About CREDO at Stanford University

CREDO at Stanford University was established to improve empirical evidence about education reform and student performance at the primary and secondarylevels. CREDO at Stanford University supports education organizations and policymakers in using reliable research and program evaluation to assess the performance of education initiatives. CREDO’s valuable insight helps educators and policymakers strengthen their focus on the results from innovative programs, curricula, policies or accountability practices. 

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