Charter Schools In Georgia And Across The U.S. Are Getting The Job Done.

A recent study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes. (CREDO) at Stanford University showed good news for charter schools across the country. The good news was most pronounced for African-American and Hispanic students.

According to the data in the CREDO report, marginalized students benefited the most from charter schools’ curricula and practices. Of these students, those who experienced the greatest benefits were black and Hispanic students, students enrolled in English-as-a-second-language programs, and students living in poverty. 

CREDO concluded that black charter school students experienced approximately 35 days of additional progress in reading, and for math, 29 days. These results added up to an extra month and a half of learning per school year. 

It’s crucial that those responsible for students’ wellbeing, from the family to the highest levels of government, take note of these findings. If we want to offer historically marginalized students their best possible educational opportunities, then we must consider making charter schools more accessible than ever before.

Unfortunately, the Georgia Department of Education declined to participate in this study, even though Georgia data was included in the two previous CREDO studies.

However, the State Charter School Commission of Georgia, following the CREDO methodology, looked at state commissioned charter schools and found:

  • Charter school academic growth compared to local traditional schools is rising nationally. The number of state charter schools in Georgia with higher progress scores than the local traditional schools increased from 2015 to 2019, with over half outperforming in the most recent school year for which data are available 2021-2022.
  • Students of color perform better in charter schools. Nationally, the academic performance of Black and Hispanic students attending charters grew by large margins relative to their peers attending traditional public schools. In Georgia, the share of majority-minority state charter schools outperforming their local traditional school comparisons rose dramatically from 17 percent to 60 percent between 2015 and 2019.
  • Charter schools yield better academic performance for students living in poverty. From 2015 to 2019, the academic progress of charter school students living in poverty nationwide surpassed that of their peers attending traditional public schools. In 2015, Georgia had 11 state charter schools serving large populations of economically disadvantaged students, and only one had higher growth scores than the traditional local schools. However, by 2019, the number climbed to eight out of 17.
  • The instructional delivery model matters and varies by location. At the national level, student performance in fully online charter schools floundered across the five-year period compared to traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Conversely, in Georgia, virtual state charters showed significant progress during the same period. By 2021-2022, both statewide virtual charter schools outperformed their traditional brick-and-mortar counterparts in several grades.

The CREDO study and the SCSC analysis of state commissioned charter schools demonstrate the important role charter schools play in our educational system. Georgia’s policy makers and educators should look to expand high quality charter schools to every corner of this state.

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