National Variation in Urban Charter Schools
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
In this paper, CREDO used its unprecedented data holdings to investigate the student profiles and academic performance of a large portion of the major urban regions in the U.S. CREDO included in this analysis forty-one major urban regions across twenty-two states for which we have student level administrative and school level data. In this analysis, we address the following questions:
1. Across the major urban school systems in the U.S., what is the range of academic performance of charters and traditional public schools (TPS)?
2. Do urban charter schools tend to cause higher or lower growth with different student subgroups, and how do these results vary by region?
3. Are there trends with respect to the quality of urban charter and TPS?
4. Which students are being served by charters and TPS in urban school systems across the U.S., both with respect to their demographics and the initial (pre-enrollment) performance of their students?
Our findings show urban charter schools in the aggregate provide higher levels of annual growth in both math and reading compared to their TPS peers, although there is substantial variation in charter quality within most urban regions and across the country. Additional analyses contrast the magnitude of each charter sector’s impact on growth to the size of the existing achievement deficit of students in their urban region relative to the rest of their state. Finally, the presence of cream skimming as a potential confounding factor is investigated in depth and urban charter sectors are found, on average, to not engage in cream skimming relative to their local TPS counterparts.