The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has published three studies in the last year concerning charter schools that, when taken together, make a powerful argument for encouraging the creation of new charter schools. Here are brief summaries of the studies:
Charter schools are good for students who attend them and for their peers who attend the traditional public school down the street.
Study: Rising Tide: Charter School Market Share and Student Achievement – Published in September, 2019, this study analyzes the relationship between how many black and Hispanic students attend charter schools and how well students achieve academically.
Finding: When more black and Hispanic students attend charter schools, black and Hispanic student achievement significantly increases in all surrounding public schools. The higher the proportion of charter school attendance, the better the achievement scores across the district.
Complementary Findings: For findings similar to this study, see (1) In Pursuit of the Common Good: The Spillover Effects of Charter Schools on Public School Student in New York City (Temple University, 2017) and (2) Fiscal and Education Spillovers from Charter School Expansion in MA (MIT School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative, 2018).
Charter schools are much more likely to employ teachers of color than traditional public schools, which research suggests is an enormous benefit to students of color.
Study: Student-Teacher Race Match in Charter and Traditional Public Schools – Published in June, 2019, this study analyzes the relationship between students and teachers who share the same race.
Finding: Charter schools have about 35 percent more black teachers, and black charter school students are about 50 percent more likely to have a black teacher than their traditional public-school peers.
Complementary Findings: See eight more studies on student-teacher race match at Harvard’s Kennedy School Shorenstein Center, Minority teachers: How students benefit from having teachers of same race.
There is still plenty of room for new charter schools in areas that may need them the most.
Study: Charter School Deserts: High-Poverty Neighborhoods with Limited Educational Options – Published in April, 2018, this study analyzes the geography of charter schools, where they are located and where they are not located.
Finding: There are over 500 charter school deserts across 39 states, with deserts being defined as geographic areas with high concentrations of poverty and no charter schools. You can find our own analysis of the study on our blog.
The Fordham Institute is making a powerful argument. Charter schools are good for students, especially for students of color. There are strong indications that the charter school teaching force is more diverse, which is also good for students of color. And there is plenty of room for charter schools to expand in areas that may need them the most. Policymakers should pay attention to these findings as they work to expand opportunity for their constituents.
Editor’s note: This piece was originally published by the Foundation for Excellence in Education.