Student Achievement

Charter Schools In Perspective

Student Achievement

Section Index
What is important to understand about the methodologies researchers use to study charter school impacts on students? What are charter schools’ impacts on students’ standardized test scores, compared with those of traditional public schools? What are charter schools’ impacts on other measures of academic engagement and success, including high school and college graduation, compared with those of traditional public schools? What are charter schools’ impacts on employment outcomes, compared with those of traditional public schools? How do charter schools impact civic engagement outcomes, compared with traditional public schools? Does a charter school education impact behavioral or health outcomes? Do charter schools impact the performance of students in traditional public schools?

What is important to understand about the methodologies researchers use to study charter school impacts on students?

Over the last decade, a number of large-scale studies have examined whether attending a charter school can improve students’ performance on standardized tests and other outcomes, compared with attending a traditional public school. Among the key players in this field of research are the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, the public policy research institutes Mathematica and the RAND Corporation, and a number of academic researchers from various universities around the nation.

Before reviewing the main findings of this research, it is important to understand some basic facts about the methodologies of the most reputable studies in the field.

Studies that are considered methodologically most sound typically study charter school impacts in one of two ways: