Since the concept first appeared in 1992, charter schools have become a popular alternative to normal public schools, for a number of reasons:
- Charter schools have a balanced racial composition. Studies have shown that charter schools do not offer preferential treatment based on any particular race or academic performance;
- They are generally just as successful at improving student achievement as normal schools;
- Statistically, students from charter high schools are more likely to graduate and to attend college;
- Researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) have reported that in their study of schools across 41 cities, students from charter schools have learned more than those from normal public schools;
- In 2008, one of the conclusions of Betts and Tang’s studies, has shown that charter school students perform better than students in normal ones in terms of middle school mathematics and elementary school reading;
While there is a constant debate about whether charter schools should continue to function or not, the fact that they are at least as efficient as traditional schools cannot be ignored. It is, important to remember the fact that the results of charter schools vary across urban areas. While some have shown amazing results in helping their students, others have reported less than satisfactory performance. However, researchers argue that charter performance in the urban areas which had previously recorded low results, is improving over time and that they will soon be on par with the others.
The Problem with The Studies
Even though there have been a lot of studies on the subject, most of them only offer snapshots. They do not actually evaluate the performance of the schools. This is due to the fact that the studies are done with little funding and little effort. Also, most of them are clustered in a few states and do not actually examine charter schools across states. Each state has its own studies, but there are very few ones which actually evaluate schools from multiple states at once, in order to provide a more complete picture in regards to their efficiency. One last thing to note that the research regarding charter schools’ performance is the fact that most of it is descriptive. There is a lot of research which shows how many schools there are and how many students, and of what race, every school has, but it does not really include much relevant data regarding the clear advantages and disadvantages of the charter program.
Charter schools are generally funded by the state, with some exceptions where the schools are operated by for-profit private companies. This separation also causes some of the studies to be unreliable.
In the end, the studies on charter schools have shown three things: most of the schools are just as efficient as the normal ones when it comes to student achievement; the schools which are less efficient are recording constant improvements with every passing year; the schools in this program have balanced racial compositions.