Study Says Charter Schools Are Underperforming

Chicago charter schools underperform traditional schools, according to a study by the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity. Myron Orfield, director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, talks about the study on Chicago Tonight.

Read the full report.

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The INCS issued a response to inaccurate claims made in the Institute of Metropolitan Opportunity’s report.

The report states,

"Enrollments in Chicago charters increased by more than nine times between 2000 and 2013 and, with strong support from the current administrations in both Chicago and Washington D.C., the system continues to grow. Indeed, the system actually uses a loop-hole to bypass the 75 school limit included in the state’s charter law and there are now more than 120 charters in Chicago. The legislature is now considering lifting the cap entirely."

View a graph of Chicago charter school enrollment from 2000-2013.


The report goes on to describe how enrollment in charter schools continue to increase:

"This has happened despite the fact that very little research actually supports a central tenet of the charter school movement – the claim that charters enhance student performance. Prior work on this question in Chicago is mixed but most evaluations imply that students in charters do no better than their counterparts in traditional public schools. Most research also shows that charters increase racial separation in school systems."

View a graph of the racial and ethnic breakdown of Chicago-area schools.


"This study, using comprehensive data for 2012-13, shows that, after controlling for the mix of students and challenges faced by individual schools, Chicago’s charter schools actually underperform their traditional counterparts in most measurable ways. Reading and math pass rates, reading and math growth rates, and graduation rates are lower in charters, all else equal, than in traditional neighborhood schools."

View a graph of graduation rates for Chicago-area schools.

Policy recommendations based on this evidence include potential actions at the local and state levels. At the local level, it is recommended that the Chicago Public School District establish a three-year moratorium on new charter schools and campuses and complete an impact study on how charter school policy has affected the district as a whole.

State-level recommendations include returning policy and control powers to local authorities by eliminating the State Charter School Commission, removing the provision that exempts campus expansions from the charter school cap, ensuring that charter schools do not deepen racial segregation, expanding the training required of school board members to include research-based review of the potential effects of charters on segregation and student performance, more detailed information and reporting requirements from charter applicants on their performance in existing schools, stricter reporting standards for charters matching those for traditional schools, more detailed descriptions from existing and proposed charters regarding the education practices or innovations they use to improve student performance, and requirements to document continuing success in order to keep their charter.

From Charter Schools in Chicago: No Model for Education Reform 


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