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Charter School Networks Show Results and Ability to Replicate Quality

Charter School Networks Show Results and Ability to Replicate Quality

August 11, 2023

The Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University (CREDO) recently released the results from their most recent study of student outcomes at charter schools. The report is comprised of two smaller reports, one looking at overall national outcomes and state by state comparisons of student performance and the other comparing student performance at schools affiliated with management organizations to students at stand-alone charter schools and those at traditional public schools. In this report, charter schools networks—both Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) and Education Management Organizations (EMOs)—are grouped together for analysis.  

In this blog post, the second of a three-part blog series on the CREDO study, we review four key takeaways from CMO/EMO portion of the study. 

  1. Both CMO/EMO affiliated and stand-alone charter schools are faring well, but CMO/EMOs are doing a bit better.

Students at CMO/EMO affiliated schools outperformed both students at traditional public schools and students at stand-alone charter schools. Students attending CMO/EMO schools gained 27 days in reading and 23 days in math compared to their traditional public school (TPS) peers. Students in stand-alone charter (SCS) schools only gained 10 more days in reading and had similar days of learning in math when compared to their TPS peers. In fact, CMO/EMOs produced an outsize portion of learning gains for all charter schools despite only accounting for one-quarter of all charter schools (and serving 37% of all charter school students).

  1. Overall, Black and Hispanic students in charter schools had higher academic growth when compared to their TPS peers with better results in CMO/EMO schools as compared to SCS schools.

Black students gained 41 days of learning in reading and 47 days of learning in math at CMO/EMO schools compared to their TPS peers. Black students attending SCS gained 25 days in reading and 17 days in math. Compared to their SCS peers, Hispanic students at CMO/EMO schools gained 22 more days in reading and 30 more days in math.

  1. CMO/EMO schools demonstrate higher gains for students in poverty compared to SCS charter schools and TPS.

When compared to their TPS peers, students in poverty at CMO/EMO schools gained 35 days in reading and 36 days in math while similar SCS students had comparable gains to their TPS peers. When delving a little deeper and looking at students who are both in poverty and from minority backgrounds, the results also showed that these students did better in CMO/EMO schools. Black and Hispanic students from low-income households showed statistically significant gains in both reading and math in both CMO/EMO and SCS schools, with greater gains in CMO/EMO schools.

  1. Charter school networks are demonstrating a strong ability to replicate high-quality charter schools at scale.

The researchers took a deeper look at the operational side of CMO/EMOs and found that generally CMO/EMOs do better over time and that CMO/EMO size does not correlate to overall performance. Single state CMO/EMOs also demonstrated better performance than CMO/EMO schools spanning multiple states. Further analyses looking at subsets of CMO/EMOs found that existing CMO/EMOs can replicate their impacts in new schools that are added to their existing networks.

The CMO/EMO study is promising and indicates that these charter schools are doing something right. The CMO/EMO networks still have some work to do but demonstrate that they are in a good place to continue to serve students of color and students from low-income backgrounds, especially when it comes to educational equity for these students. 

 

Natalie Camarena Lopez is the manager of data and research at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 

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