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Laura Waters

Newark Charter School Students Show ‘Dramatic’ Learning Gains

The new report from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) is out from Stanford University and the results show that students who attend charter schools in 41 urban areas tend to post higher learning gains than students who attend traditional public schools. Overall results show that gains are especially pronounced for black, Hispanic, low-income and special education students. From the CREDO report on national trends:
Specifically, students enrolled in urban charter schools receive the equivalent of 40 additional days of learning growth in math and 28 days of additional growth in reading compared to their matched peers in [traditional public schools]. These figures compare favorably to those found for the national charter sector as a whole, where CREDO’s National Charter School Study found the national average impact of charter enrollment was 7 additional days of learning per year in reading and no significant difference in math.
Newark is highlighted as a city where student improvement is “dramatic” and one of the “highest performing charter sectors.” The report notes that:
The Bay Area, Boston, D.C., Memphis, New Orleans, New York City and Newark are much stronger than their traditional public school peers in math. The Bay Area, Boston, Memphis, Nashville and Newark also stand out with respect to annual gains for charter school students in reading.
Other highlights:
  • Newark is also included in the group of charters that serve the poorest populations, i.e., at least 80 percent of the students are economically impoverished.
  • The report notes that charter schools tend to enroll higher numbers of girls, and this is true for Newark as well. There, the charter sector enrolls 7 percent more girls than boys.
  • Also Newark charter schools serve, on average, 5 percent fewer special education students than traditional public schools, although the city’s charter school enrollment still puts it in CREDO's category of serving “at least” 10 percent of special education students.
From today’s NJ Spotlight on the report’s “fundamental findings” (emphasis added):
The study looked at charters in 41 urban districts and how they perform. Newark is the only New Jersey district included, and the findings are striking. For instance, the report said, 77 percent of Newark charter schools outperformed traditional public schools in math, and 69 percent of charters outperformed the district in language arts. “All of the charter schools in the study either outperformed or showed no statistical difference when compared to traditional schools,” the report read.
And here’s the statement from the New Jersey Charter Schools Association, which points out the “tremendous opposition and calls for elimination” that charter schools suffer:
The results of this year’s CREDO report are proof of the effectiveness and promise of charter public school education. While not perfect, and no method is, the report shows that charter public schools are changing lives and continue to show achievement in spite of substantial restrictions—both economically and politically. In some of New Jersey’s most troubled and disadvantaged communities, charter public schools are succeeding in closing the educational achievement gap with our state’s more wealthy communities, despite receiving an average 70 percent of each education dollar compared to their traditional public school counterparts. Charter public schools are doing so under tremendous opposition and calls for elimination from the educational establishment. The CREDO report results prove that New Jersey’s charter public schools are doing more with less and are the future of effective public education in our state.
Laura Waters writes about New Jersey education politics and policy for WHYY’s Newsworks and NJ Spotlight. An earlier version of this post appeared on her own blog, NJ Left Behind. She is a mother of four and has been a school board member in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, for 10 years.
Laura Waters
Laura Waters writes about New Jersey and New York education policy and politics. As the daughter of New York City educators and parent of a son with special needs, she writes frequently about the need to listen to families and ensure access to good public school options for all. She is based in New Jersey, where she and her husband have raised four children. She recently finished serving 12 years ...

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