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Study Finds Average Michigan Charter School Student Outperforms District School Peer

CREDO at Stanford University releases in-depth analysis of results for charter schools in Michigan

Stanford, CA – A new report released today by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that the typical student in a Michigan charter school gains more learning in a year than his or her district
school peer, amounting to about an additional two months of learning in reading and math.

The results for the typical student in a Detroit charter school (27% of the state’s charter students) were even more pronounced, on average gaining nearly three months achievement for each year they attend charter schools.

“These findings show that Michigan has set policies and practices for charter schools and their authorizers to produce consistent high quality across the state. The findings are especially welcome for students in communities that face significant education challenges.” said CREDO at Stanford University’s Director Dr. Margaret Raymond.

CREDO at Stanford University is the nation’s foremost independent analyst of charter school effectiveness. This report provides CREDO’s first in-depth examination of the results for charter schools in Michigan. For this analysis, a total of
85,650 charter school students (with 170,862 observations across 5 periods) from 273 charter schools are followed for as many years as data are available.

The CREDO at Stanford University Michigan analysis found that at the school level, on average, thirty-five percent of the charter schools have significantly more positive learning gains than their district school counterparts in reading, while two percent of charter schools have significantly lower learning gains. In math, forty-two percent of the charter schools studied outperform their district school peers peers and six percent perform worse.

Fourteen percent of Michigan charter schools have below- average growth and below-average achievement, and the same is true for twenty five percent of the charter schools in math.

“Students in these schools do not have the progress each year to help them overcome their currently low level of achievement. Worse, they will fall further behind their peers in the state over time. The share of underperforming charter schools is offset, however, by the proportion of charter schools that are either already achieving at high levels or posting above average growth to position them to reach those levels.” said Devora Davis, Research Manager and co-author of the Michigan report.

In both reading and math, a majority of charter schools have positive academic growth. For reading, the proportion is 82 percent and for math it exceeds 72 percent.

“Should these trends continue, the share of schools which currently lag the state average for absolute achievement would be expected to decline. These absolute improvements are within sight in Michigan.” said Devora Davis.

Click here to download a copy of the state report.

About CREDO at Stanford University

CREDO at Stanford University was established to improve empirical evidence about education reform and student performance at the primary and secondary levels. CREDO at Stanford University supports education organizations and policymakers in using reliable research and program evaluation to assess the performance of education initiatives. CREDO’s valuable insight helps educators and policymakers strengthen their focus on the results from innovative programs, curricula, policies or accountability practices.