Education in the Media
Study: Charter Schools Outperform Public Schools in N.J.November 27, 2012
Students who attend New Jersey’s rapidly growing menu of charter schools earned higher math scores than their district school counterparts 40 percent of the time between 2007 and 2011, according to a report released today by Stanford University.
Published by the university’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, the study examined five years of test score data for students in grades 3-8 who live in towns with charter schools. Most of the state’s charters serve minority student who live in cities where the traditional public schools struggle.
“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, one of the report’s authors.
Charter school students outperformed their peers in reading 30 percent of the time and only performed worse than district school students 11 percent of the time. Charter school students perform worse than district school students on math 13 percent of the time.
On average New Jersey charter school students receive the equivalent of 2 months additional learning time for reading and three months additional learning time for math – figures much higher than the national average, the study found.
Perhaps the most stunning finding in the report came from examining urban charter schools exclusively, which comprise a majority of the more than 80 charter schools statewide. Newark students who attend charter schools gain nearly an entire school year of extra learning time by attending one of the city’s charter schools.
A typical school year is 10 months long, and Newark students who attend charters there receive the equivalent of nine additional months of math instruction and seven and a half additional months of reading instruction compared to the district schools throughout the same 180-day school year.
“Charter schools in New Jersey, specifically in Newark, have some of the largest learning gains we have seen to date,” said Margaret Raymond, the Stanford University center’s director. “These results demonstrate that charter schools can thrive in a constructive policy environment and prove to be a high-quality option for parents.”
Gov. Chris Christie supports charter school expansion and has pressed the legislature to relax rules on charter schools that would ease expansion statewide. A report released by the state Department of Education last year drew similar conclusions to the Stanford study, but critics argued the report's methodology was flawed.