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NEW DATA on Achievement in Charter Schools
2005 MEAPs Show Charters Continue to Close Achievement Gap Charter Schools Get High Marks
Students Learning More, Faster
Older Charter School Students Lagging - but ... Charter Schools Closing Achievement Gap

Charter Schools in Action: Renewing Public Education
Chester Finn, Bruno Manno, Gregg Vanourek; Princeton Univ. Press; 2000.

Charter School Achievement: What We Know
Prepared by Bryan C. Hassel; Public Impact;
July 2005


Did You Know?

Twelve studies find that overall gains in charter schools are larger than other public schools; four find charter schools’ gains higher in certain significant categories of schools; six find comparable gains; and, four find that charter schools’ overall gains lagged behind traditional schools.

Source: Charter School Achievement: What We Know, July 2005 Update


For more information, see the US Department of Education's website on charter schools:

To received a free copy of the US Department of Education’s June 2004 publication, "Successful Charter Schools," which highlights 8 diverse charter schools around the country, send a request to


To contact MACS:



2005 MEAPs Show Charters Continue to Close Achievement Gap

Michigan Association of Public School Academies 517-374-9167 Tel
215 S. Washington Sq., Suite 210, Lansing, MI 48933 517-374-9197 Fax
For More Information, Contact: For Immediate Release
Dan Quisenberry, MAPSA President June 1, 2005

Latest MEAP results show students attending Michigan’s charter public schools continue to outpace their peers by posting greater year-over-year gains.
Charter children showed greater progress than the state average in 7 of 10 grades/subjects on the 2005 MEAPs. Charter students had a 9 percentage-point climb in 7th-grade writing, compared to a state average increase of 6 points. In 4th-grade reading, charter scores escalated 5 points; the state average increased 3 points.
“This is strong achievement for Michigan’s charter public schools,” said Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.
“This achievement is even more notable because 88 percent of charter students are in urban schools. Most charters serve communities that know academic decay far too well — where children often are one, two and even three years behind by fourth or fifth grades,” he said.  “Charters are reversing the trend of urban failure, increasing knowledge, confidence and belief in the future, child by child.”

Other highlights from the 2005 MEAP analysis show:
• Charters significantly outpace their peers in overall gains achieved since current MEAP tests were introduced, moving more students into the top achievement level and more students out of the lowest performance level.
Charters had a 24-point decline in students at the lowest level in 8th-grade science, compared to a 15-point decrease statewide the past three years. Charters showed a 10-point decline in students at the lowest level in 4th-grade reading the past two years, compared to a 4-point decrease statewide.
In 7th-grade reading, charter students had a 17-point increase the past two years, while the statewide average climbed 11 points.

• In raw scores, Detroit-area charter public schools continued to exceed the local traditional district in all 7th- and 8th-grade subjects — again showing the longer students study in charters, the more they excel.
In 7th-grade writing, 49 percent of Detroit-area charter students passed the MEAP test, compared to 34 percent of the traditional district’s students — a 15-point difference. In 7th-grade reading, 61 percent of Detroit-area charter students passed the MEAP, compared to 48 percent of traditional school students — a 13-point difference.
The David Ellis Academy in Detroit exceeded the state average in 7 of 10 subjects (the state
average is higher than Detroit Public Schools in every case). Nearby A.G.B.U. Alex & Marie
Manoogian School in Southfield exceeded state average in 8 of 10 subjects.
• Flint-area charter public schools exceed the passing rate of the local traditional district in
all 5th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade subjects — including scores 12 or more points higher in all 8th-grade
subjects and in 7th-grade reading.
The Academy of Flint not only topped the local district, it beat the higher state average in 9 of 10
subjects — 98 percent of its 4th-graders passed the reading test, as did 94 percent of its 7thgraders.
Nearby Holly Academy beat the state average in 8 of 10 subjects.
• Grand Rapids-area charter public schools combined to beat not only the local district
average in every case, but also the significantly higher state average in 7 of 10 subjects.
Chandler Woods Charter Academy in Belmont, Excel Charter Academy in Grand Rapids and
Walker Charter Academy in Walker beat the state average in 10 of 10 subjects. Cross Creek
Charter Academy in Byron Center and Vanguard Charter Academy in Wyoming beat the state
average in 8 of 10 subjects, as did Knapp Charter Academy in Grand Rapids in 7 of 10 subjects.
For a complete set of MEAP fact sheets on a statewide basis and for charters in Detroit, Flint, Grand
Rapids and Lansing, visit

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Charter Schools Get High Marks
Students Learning More, Faster

- Research Fact Sheet -  From the Center for Education Reform
This new round-up of academic achievement from around the country shows that
charter schools are having their intended effect – raising students’ test scores to levels beyond those found in conventional public schools. Both proponents and critics of charter schools have eagerly anticipated definitive data that show benefits of this important education reform.
In national assessments of public school students, charter schools showed more
improvement in both reading and math between the 2003 and 2005 tests. In reading, charter schools improved four points while conventional public schools remained stagnant. This caused an increase in the percentage of charter students achieving proficiency while those students in conventional schools showed no change since 2003. Charter schools typically attract a higher proportion of at-risk children. At the 8th grade level a full 60 percent of students in charter schools are minorities, showing that charter students come from backgrounds that have traditionally been under-served. While the present difference in scores is statistically insignificant, it will become all the more significant because charter schools are showing more improvement over time while conventional public schools continue to show little or no such change.
•• In New York City, where a restrictive cap limits the number of charters that can open statewide, charter students outperformed their counterparts in the third, fifth, sixth, and seventh grades. Sixty-two percent of charter students achieved proficiency in reading compared to 55 percent of conventional public schools. In math, the difference is even larger; 61percent of charter students reached proficiency compared to only half of all conventional public school students.
•• Charter students in the District of Columbia now account for 26 percent of all public school students, the highest in the nation. The 65 charter schools are also scoring higher in reading and math. Fifty-four percent of DC charter students are proficient in math, a full 10 percent higher than conventional schools. In reading 45 percent of charter students are proficient compared to 39 percent of students in conventional public schools. Recent federal data show that DC charter schools made larger gains since the 2003 test.
•• The pioneer in chartering, Minnesota, still managed to grow its numbers by 13 percent since 2004. The amount of charter schools failing to meet federal standards decreased by 29 percent meanwhile the number of all public schools that failed to meet the same standards increased by 2 percent since last year.
•• Showing its affinity to high academic standards and the ability to choose a school that’s best, Utah charter school enrollment nearly doubled in less than a year’s time with nearly 12,000 students in the state’s high-performing schools.
•• Charter schools in California gained more ground based on the Academic Performance Index (API) than conventional public schools (28 points vs. 20 points). Charters also outperformed conventional schools at the middle- and high-school levels.
•• While charter schools only make up 3 percent of all Massachusetts public schools their showing on the recent MCAS far exceeds their market share. A full 13 percent of the top- performing schools on the state math tests are charters.
•• While the final numbers are still being tabulated in Arizona, the findings of one major study suggest a continued pattern of success. Fourth grade students attending charter schools are 9.6 percent more likely to be proficient in reading and 10.3 percent more likely to be proficient in mathematics than their conventional school counterparts (based on state AIMS tests).
•• The findings of one major study indicate the high levels of achievement by Colorado’s charter schools. Fourth grade students attending charter schools are 12.3 percent more likely to be proficient in reading and 13.5percent more likely to be proficient in mathematics than their conventional school counterparts. Disaggregated results on Colorado’s state test, the CSAP, are still unavailable.

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Older charter students lagging
Charter elementaries top traditional schools, but the advantage disappears in middle and high schools.

By Allison Sherry
Denver Post Staff Writer

Elementary charter school students do better academically than kids in traditional schools, yet older charter students do worse than those in regular high schools, according to a report released Monday by the state Department of Education.

Middle school students' scores on Colorado Student Assessment Program tests were about the same in traditional and charter schools, the report said.  The report also noted that charter-school students generally made larger gains in reading, writing, math and science in the past three years than students in traditional schools.

Nine percent of the state's "gain-maker schools" - places where the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced grew by at least 20 percent over three years - were charters. And 11 percent of the "gain-makers" in math were charters.

This is higher than the state average because charters make up only about 6.2 percent of all of the state's public schools, the report stated.

Charter advocates say that, statewide, charter high schools may appeal to students who don't necessarily fit into a traditional high school.  Of the 42 charter high schools statewide, 25 serve "high-risk" populations, said Jim Griffin, executive director of the Colorado League of Charter Schools. That is why CSAP scores could be lower in charter high schools, he said.

"A big percentage of the charter high schools open are serving kids who don't really find that traditional schools fit them," Griffin said.

High school students who excel academically usually prefer traditional schools because there are more extracurricular activities, according to the report, which surveyed charter school leaders statewide.

In the 2004-05 school year, there were 36,872 students in charters, or 4.9 percent of the total public school enrollment. More than 25,000 students are on charter school waiting lists, the report said.

Charter schools are public and receive taxpayer per-pupil funding, but they are run privately and are not subject to district rules, scheduling or curriculum. For the most part, they operate on contracts from school districts.

The study analyzed data from the 2004-05 school year from the state's 107 charter schools open at the time. State officials looked at achievement through CSAP scores and surveyed charter school leaders.

Van Schoales, president of the Colorado Children's Campaign, has studied the academic performance of charter schools and said the study, like many that focus on academic performance, raised more questions than it answered.

"What is it about the kids doing well in charters, and why are they doing well, what are their (the schools') characteristics?" he said. "It's hard to tell from these studies about what's actually working."

School districts have often been slow to shut down poor-performing charter schools or replicate high-performing charters, Schoales said.  Since 1993, 11 charter schools have been closed by districts, Griffin said. Four of those were high schools.

The study found that in ninth and 10th grades, non-charter school students did better in reading and writing than students enrolled in charter schools.

A low-performing charter, Denver's P.S. 1, serves sixth- through 12-graders who didn't fit into a traditional school, said principal Liz Aybar.

"There are students from very difficult backgrounds, students who haven't had success in school; they may have been in the juvenile-justice system," she said. "And then there are some who've excelled academically but, for some reason, a traditional school hasn't allowed them to excel as much as P.S. 1 can."

Staff writer Allison Sherry can be reached at 303-820-1377 or

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Charter Schools Closing Achievement Gap

13 October 2005

Fourth graders attending public charter schools across the country are making notable strides in reading and math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwise known as the “The Nation’s Report Card,” released today. Gains were particularly strong in reading, with charter students gaining at a faster rate than students in traditional public schools, whose scores were unchanged since 2003.

--Big Gains for African-American, Low-Income, and Latino Student Populations-

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2005 – Fourth graders attending public charter schools across the country are making notable strides in reading and math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwise known as the “The Nation’s Report Card,” released today. Gains were particularly strong in reading, with charter students gaining at a faster rate than students in traditional public schools, whose scores were unchanged since 2003.

African-American, Latino, and low-income charter students also registered larger reading gains than their fourth-grade peers in non-charter public schools. Gains among Hispanic charter fourth graders were so strong that they have opened a 10-point gap with non-charter students.

“Charter students and educators can be proud of these results," said Nelson Smith, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “The findings confirm those of national and state-level studies showing strong gains in achievement among public charter schools – with especially good results for minority and low-income children.”

“Reading and math open doors,” said Smith. “Charter schools are providing underserved fourth-graders with the tools they need to succeed in an increasingly global economy.”

“Yet our work is far from over,” explained Smith. “We need to do more to ensure that charter schools remain focused on quality and accountability so that more children have the opportunity to achieve.”

While the Report Card provides generally good news, it also found less-robust performance at the 8th grade level. There, charter students trail other public school students in math and reading. According to Smith: "We know that many charter middle schools—KIPP, Roxbury Prep, Amistad Academy--produce exemplary achievement in these grades. We need to do a better job of making sure that these schools flourish and grow, and that others learn by their example."

He added: "Recent research has also helped us to understand how charter achievement is often affected by the age of the school and the prior academic performance of students who enter – factors not taken into account in the NAEP sample. We're looking forward to examining these effects in more detail in the weeks to come."

“That said," he concluded, "today's Report Card shows real progress for charter schools. In its 14-year history, the charter school movement has demonstrated that innovation, freedom from red tape, and partnership between parents and educators is giving new hope to disadvantaged and minority families--and the Report Card reinforces that message.

# # #
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ( is the national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. Its ultimate goal is to increase the number of high-performing charter schools available to all families, particularly low-income and minority families who currently don't have access to quality public schools. The Alliance provides assistance to state charter school associations and resource centers, develops and advocates for improved public policies, and serves as the united voice for this large and diverse movement.

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