New Report Shows Charter Schools Are Having Success with Low Income and Minority Students

On September 17, researchers from Stanford University released a report called “Getting Down to Facts II” that highlights the achievements of charter schools.

Charter schools have proven to be a controversial topic in Los Angeles County, as they use public money but have more flexibility in hiring, curriculum, and management than other public schools. California authorized charter schools in 1992. At that time, charter schools were considered a risky experiment. California was only the second state to authorize charter schools. It was unclear how they would impact student learning and achievement. Originally, California only authorized 100 charter schools. By 2017-2018, California had more than 1,200 charter schools that serve 620,000 students. While that number seems big, this is only 10% of public school students.

Like traditional public schools, charter schools support and implement common core standards. Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools are required to prove their success in order to continue operating as a charter school. Charter schools renew their status every five years. High performing schools are supported. Chronically low performing schools that are not proving they are delivering academic results for children are not renewed and lose their status as charter schools.

“Getting Down to the Facts II” shows how well charter schools are serving our low income and minority children. In California, the enrollment of African-American children into charter schools has increased significantly from 2008 to 2014. This isn’t surprising since African-American youth are doing better in charter schools than in traditional schools. In 2017, language arts scores showed that in traditional public schools only 29% of African-American children were meeting or exceeding the standards. Comparatively, 40% of African-American children in charter schools are meeting or exceeding the standards. The same results can be seen in math, where 19% of African-American children are meeting or exceeding math standards compared to 25% in charter schools. Just as importantly, African-American children are less likely to be suspended in a charter school than in a traditional public school.

Graduation rates at charter schools are much higher than public schools in the same area. A national study done by Mathematica Policy Research in 2010 found that charter schools have 7-11% higher graduation rate than traditional schools in the same area. That same study also found that students who graduate from charter schools are 10-11% more likely to enroll in college. Other national studies show that charter schools are decreasing the rates of teen pregnancy and incarceration, showing that charter schools are demonstrating results even in the most difficult of circumstances.They have an impact not only academically but in children’s lives overall.

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