The nation’s charter schools, including those in California, have made “slow and steady” progress over the past four years, with students in nearly a quarter of charters now outperforming their traditional school peers in reading and, on average, catching up to them in math, a group of Stanford researchers reported. The study also found that charter schools excel in teaching poor minority students and English language learners.
The study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO, updates a 2009 report on charters in 15 states and the District of Columbia. That study’s major finding, which charter school critics have often cited to counter states’ and the Obama administration’s push for charter school expansion, was that 37 percent of charters produced academic results that were worse than traditional public schools in math, while only 17 percent performed significantly better, with no significant difference for the rest. There was little distinction in results between charters and traditional public schools in reading.
Charter schools now serve an estimated 2.3 million students in 6,000 schools – 4 percent of the nation’s school population. In California, nearly 8 percent of the state’s students – 471,000 – attend more than 1,000 charter schools.