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Abigail Burrola

Charter schools are making strides across the nation, and Kansas City’s own charter schools are no exception. New research from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University shows charter school students in Kansas City are learning more math and English than their traditional public school counterparts.

The study examined student’s academic growth on the state assessment in math and English for the 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 school years. CREDO compared traditional public school students in Kansas City to Kansas City charter school students, and then compared both of those groups to the state average.

In order to compare student growth, CREDO uses a “virtual twin” method, taking into account seven student characteristics such as previous academic achievement and income level. CREDO matches each charter student with several traditional public school students who are similar on the seven characteristics and averages the test scores of these students to create each charter student’s virtual twin. The traditional public school virtual twin for each charter school student differ in only one way— what type of school they attend.

Using this model, Credo found that Kansas City charter school students had more academic growth in both math and English than their traditional public school student twins in every year studied. And by the 2016–17 school year, charter school students had more growth than the state average in both subjects.

Although the results of the research are measured in standard deviations, the researchers converted these to days of learning. A typical school year has about 180 days. CREDO found that during the 2016–17 school year, Kansas City charter students received nearly 60 additional days of learning in math than Kansas City traditional public school students and about 30 more days than the state average. Charter school students also showed more growth in English, receiving about 90 extra days of learning compared to the traditional public school students and more than 30 extra days compared to the state average.

When CREDO researchers analyzed student subgroups, they found that Black, Hispanic, English language learner students, special education students and students in poverty all had more days of learning in charter schools than traditional public schools in both math and English. Notably, special education students in charter schools had more than 120 extra days of learning in English and over 90 extra days in math in one school year than special education students in traditional public schools.

While the evidence that charter schools are capable of producing great academic results continues to mount, Missouri remains steadfast in refusing to expand educational opportunity for students. Why doesn’t Missouri want to give kids all across the state the option to attend these high-performing schools?


About the Author

Abigail Burrola

Abigail Burrola graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2018.