Thursday, January 9, 2014

Recent Research Supports Charter Schools

The growth of charter schools is becoming increasing popular in many states. In fact, the demand for charter schools is far outweighing the supply.  In New York City, for example, 50,000 students are on waiting lists for charter school enrollment.  In Philadelphia, there are about 30,000 students on charter school wait lists. 

Why is school choice so appealing to families?  One reason for the increased popularity of charter schools is recent research proving their effectiveness as compared to traditional public schools, especially with vulnerable student populations.  Perhaps more interesting, charter schools that are part of charter management organizations (CMO), which ASPIRA of PA is considered, have proven more successful than charter schools that are not a part of a larger network.  

In April 2013, The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) published a comprehensive summary of several recent school performance reports proving the success of charter schools. This NAPCS summary included:
“On average, students who attended CMOs for four years, have stronger achievement growth than traditional public school students and non-CMO charter students in both reading and math.” 
“Public charter schools posted superior results with historically disadvantaged student populations…in nearly every category and subject area, CMOs and non-CMOs outperformed traditional public schools for the following student populations: Black, Hispanic, high-poverty, English language learners and special education.” 
This NAPCS publication of school performance research highlights several other charter school studies and state-specific outcomes, which you can read here

In a Research for Action report released in February 2013 titled “Charter School vs. District School Comparisons: Prepared for the North Philadelphia Education Compact comprised of ASPIRA, Congreso, and Nueva Esperanza,” ASPIRA charter schools were proven to be performing better than local comparable schools. Highlights regarding our dual-language schools include:
Both Hostos and Pantoja students outperformed the SDP average of non-charter schools and the average of all surrounding traditional schools in both math and reading proficiency.
Hostos and Pantoja also had the highest attendance rates of the 4 comparison schools used in the study.

In a report released by the School District of Philadelphia in December 2013 titled “Renaissance Schools Initiative Progress Report:  2010-2011 through 2012-2013,” several promising findings were noted about ASPIRA’s turnaround schools:
Both Stetson and Olney have seen overall increases in math and reading proficiency since the school takeovers. 
The overall number of serious incidents and percentage of student offenders both decreased at all ASPIRA Renaissance schools between the school takeover through 2013.
“ASPIRA schools seem to be on track for achieving substantial improvements in reading and math proficiency. Programmatic and other qualitative data should be collected at these schools from administrators, teachers, students and parents in order to capitalize on the strengths of these programs.” 

ASPIRA of PA is proud to be a charter management organization making strides in closing the achievement gap in Philadelphia.  Our dual-language charters have consistently out-performed other local schools, and our turnaround charter schools made dramatic increases in student proficiency and behavior within their first years of ASPIRA of PA management.   With a student population that is over 40% special education students and English Language Learners, and is almost entirely minority and low-income, ASPIRA of PA school outcomes are especially impressive.

Despite the success of our schools and charter schools in general, there is still much controversy surrounding school choice and its affect on traditional school districts. ASPIRA of PA is committed to continuously improving student outcomes and raising the bar of educational quality.  As our student success grows, other local schools will be challenged to improve more than ever.  This is a win-win for everyone.