Report Evaluating Charter Schools Impacts Released by the Dept of Education

Date: June 30, 2010
Location: College Park, MD

The National Center for Educational Evaluation (NCEE) and Regional Assistance recently released “The Evaluation of Charter School Impacts” final report which was funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). In collaboration with Mathematica, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC (Optimal) conducted the first large-scale randomized trial on the effectiveness of charter schools in multiple states and economics settings. Previous studies on charter schools focused primarily on the impact of test scores and offered minimal evidence on impacts on other student outcomes.

According to the NCEE, the growing number of charter schools has become an important part of the federal government’s school improvement plan. The study of charter schools is a product of the continued debate regarding the connection between academic success of students and the underlying supporting circumstances. Beginning in 2004, Optimal led the recruitment and data collection from 36 middle school charter schools across multiple states. The participating charter middle schools were selected using a specific recruiting methodology, which included criteria restrictions such the grade levels serviced and schools with lotteries.

Key findings include:

  • On average, study charter schools did not have a statistically significant impact on student achievement.
  • Study charter schools did not significantly affect most other outcomes examined, except for parent and student satisfaction.
  • Study charter schools were more effective for lower income and lower achieving students and less effective for higher income and higher achieving students.
  • The variation in student achievement impacts among charter schools may be related to certain school characteristics.

The final report indicates that student achievement results vary broadly between charter schools compared to the effectiveness of traditional public schools. A notable increase in academic performance is found among disadvantaged students in large urban communities.

For the full-text of the report visit .