As the state with the third largest school system in the country, Illinois has been integral to national and regional studies focusing on the efficacy of charter schools. The deeper you look into charter school performance, the more you’ll find that the most disadvantaged students get the best results.
Despite the challenges facing public charter schools from every side — collapsing state budgets, narrow authorization procedures, politicians and community members who believe the status quo needs no reform — charter schools are responsible for some of the highest academic performance in all of Illinois’ non-selective enrollment schools. With their innovative curriculums and dedicated staffs, charter schools teach the entire student in a way traditional schools simply cannot match.
Who do charter schools serve?
- Illinois charter schools comprise 55 schools over 124 campuses, 39 of which fill 110 campuses in Chicago, serving nearly 50,000 students.
- Public charter schools make up almost 10% of the Chicago Public Schools system and about 2% of all public schools in Illinois.
- The Illinois charter school population is 63% African-American, 32% Latin, and 86% low-income.
Time in school
From INCS Research:
- Public charter school students spend 45% more time in school per day, on average, than traditional public school students do, and have a calendar that is 10 days longer than their districts.
- On average, a Chicago charter public school day is 7.6 hours, compared to 5.8 hours at traditional CPS schools, while the charter school year is on average 10 days longer (182, compared to 172) than traditional schools in Chicago.
- Nine of the top 10 highest 2011 average ACT scores from non-selective enrollment schools came from charter schools.
Higher scores, more graduates, higher attendance
From Chicago Public Schools Office of New Schools report, Charter and Contract Schools Performance Report 2008-2009:
- For the past 5 years, the percentage of charter school students meeting or exceeding state standards on the ISAT composite increased by 10.9 percentage points.
- Charter school students are 10% more likely than CPS students to graduate high school in 4 years and have a 32% greater chance of attending a selective or very selective college upon graduation.
- Charter school students have a higher attendance rate, 96.2%, and a lower transfer-out rate, 2.6%, than traditional public schools.
By the numbers
From The Rand Corporation’s 2009 study, Achievement and Attainment in Chicago Charter Schools:
Charter students have
- an advantage of approximately half a point in composite ACT score (for which the median score for the students included in the analysis is 16)
- an advantage of 7% in the probability of graduating from HS
- an advantage of 11% in the probability of enrolling in college.
- “In sum, as with HS graduation and college enrollment, results suggest that, for the average charter eighth-grader, attending a charter HS may have positive effects on ACT scores.” (AACCS, p. 21)
Charters as a system
From The Rand Corporation’s 2009 study, Charter Schools in 8 States:
- Rand suggests “researchers and policymakers need to look beyond test scores to fully assess charter schools’ performance,” which means examining school culture, graduation rates, attendance rates, college attendance rates, and several other factors in order to get the full picture of what charters have to offer their students. (CS8S, p. 86)
More time in a charter = better academics
From Center for Education Research on Education Outcomes’ (CREDO) 2009 study, Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States:
- Charter schools that include middle schools perform at a higher level, as the study implies a direct positive correlation between time in a charter school and high academic results, similar to Caroline Hoxby’s finding in her 2009 study.
- “Our pooled study also revealed that time plays a significant role in the academic growth of charter school students. First year charter students experience significantly smaller learning gains compared to their [traditional] peers. Second and third year charter students not only reverse this trend, but can anticipate larger learning gains than those of their TPS counterparts.
Charters outperform neighborhood schools
From Mathematica Institute’s 2010 study, The Evaluation of Charter School Impacts:
- This national study was critical of the efficacy of charter schools because charter quality varies wildly from state to state. The study that as the percentage of students receiving free lunch as well as the percentage of students of color rises, charter school effectiveness goes up. Being close to an urban center also increases performance.
While not every charter school reaches its full potential, studies have shown that charter students often outperform students in neighborhood schools. Charter schools produce real, measurable results that are beneficial for thousands of students.