Charter School Students Surpass Traditional Public School Students in Overall Achievement Growth

Posted on March 15, 2004 | Type: Press Release
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PHOENIX-In a study released today by the Goldwater Institute, Human Resources Policy Corporation president Lewis C. Solmon and Pete Goldschmidt of the UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation provide strong evidence that the superior performance of Arizona charter school students is not the result of "creaming" the brightest students from traditional public schools. To the contrary, charter school students typically begin with lower test scores but show overall annual achievement growth roughly three points higher than traditional public school students.

The study examined nearly 158,000 SAT-9 reading test scores of more than 60,000 Arizona students attending 873 traditional public and charter schools over a three-year period. Among the study's findings:

  • Charter school students in the elementary grades exhibited faster achievement growth than traditional public school students.
  • Achievement growth in the middle grades was similar for both kinds of students, while high school achievement growth was higher for traditional public school students.
  • Even so, charter students who completed the 12th grade surpassed traditional public school students on SAT-9 reading tests.
  • In the middle and high school grades, charters generally serve students seeking vocational training, who have been out of school, are struggling with learning or behavioral problems, or those who have been in the juvenile justice system.

Although the study treats the initial years of extensive charter school existence, the results suggest that the long-term benefits of switching schools to find a better student/school match outweigh the short-term disruption.

Contacts: Lewis Solmon, Human Resources Policy Corporation, (310) 570-4850, and Vicki Murray, Education Policy Analyst, Goldwater Institute, (602) 462-5000 x 229

Press Contact: Andrea Woodmansee, Director of Communications, (602) 712-125

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