Education Watch – Charter Schools Are Working, But How Do We Improve Them Here?

Jun 9, 2023 | Wisconsin Voices Blog

From Stanford University’s gold-standard CREDO study: “The typical charter school student…had reading and math gains that outpaced their peers in the traditional public schools… Black and Hispanic students in charter schools display substantially higher growth when compared to the TPS students of the same racial/ethnic group.” Read more here, here, and here.

Quinton Klabon

Additional context from IRG Senior Research Director Quinton Klabon:

  • Wisconsin charters showed slight gains, but nowhere near the extraordinary pace in New York, Tennessee, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Missouri, or Washington. Why?
  • It’s not because they take the best students. Students entering charter schools actually are lower-performing than their peers (p. 26).
  • It may be because we do not build chains. Charter brands like Success that focus on a single state add 1.5 months to student learning (p. 107), far exceeding 1-offs (p. 84). Wisconsin only has 1 chain, Rocketship, which suffers compared to its well-funded California counterparts.

So, horribly inadequate charter funding is the culprit. Wisconsin districts get about $13,000 per non-special-needs student compared to about $9,000 for charters. That’s a million-dollar gap per school! Even average national funding would help great schools like United Community Center and The Lincoln Academy expand and perfect. Instead, charters are beginning to die. That will quicken if we do not significantly raise charter (and voucher) funding this budget cycle.