A recently released report from CREDO at Stanford University looks at the effects of charter public schools associated with a charter management organization (CMO), a relationship used with Ascent Classical Academies and the recently approved charter school in Douglas County.
The findings show that charter schools partnered with a non-profit CMO using proven models demonstrate improved education outcomes for children. The study also concludes that CMOs that maintain more direct control over school operations post higher gains than contracting out services to external third-party vendors. CMOs show their strongest effect with traditionally underserved populations, that include minorities and children living in poverty.
The High-Level Summary of CREDO Findings
1. On the whole, the analyses in this study show attending a charter school that is part of a larger network of schools is associated with improved educational outcomes for students. The history of CREDO’s research work has shown steady and consistent, even if gradual, improvement in charter school network performance. It is reasonable to expect current policies to result in continued improvement. However, there is still room for charter school authorizers to accelerate the rate of improvement by ensuring only the finest of charter school organizations are given the privilege of expanding their services to multiple schools.
2. The management arrangements of the network provider influence the typical gains that students make. Schools that contract with external vendors for much or all of the school operations post lower results than network operators that maintain direct control over their operations.
3. Charter school operators that hold non-profit status post significantly higher student academic gains than those with a for-profit orientation. For-profit operators have results that are at best equal to the comparison traditional public school students (reading) or worse (math).
4. Charter organizations have their strongest effects with traditionally underserved populations such as black and Hispanic students. This finding is consistent with previous CREDO research that shows minority students and students in poverty have the strongest gains from attending charter schools. Encouraging expansion of networks with a proven track records of success with these students has a strong likelihood of improving the quality of educational outcomes across the nation.
5. The effectiveness of charter school organizations varies across states. Several factors can contribute to these differences. One of the most obvious factors is differences in state policies around charter school practices and authorizing. While studies such as this can identify differences, there is a strong need for more qualitative research around state practices which lead to better out outcomes for students.