I've heard calls for the ordinary public school system in my state to be replaced or supplemented with a charter school system (pdf warning).
Do charter schools perform better or worse than other public schools?
If so, by what measures?
The Economist ran an article on July 7, 2012 reporting mixed results across states and types of pupils. It pointed to particular gains for the weakest and poorest children and in elementary schools rather than high schools, but with bad results in some states.
It highlighted two particular pieces of research, one in 2009 from CREDO at Sanford which said
For students that are low income, charter schools had a larger and more positive effect than for similar students in traditional public schools. English Language Learner students also reported significantly better gains in charter schools... States with reading and math gains that were significantly higher for charter school students than would have occurred in traditional schools included: Arkansas, Colorado (Denver), Illinois (Chicago), Louisiana and Missouri.... States with reading and math gains that were significantly below their peers in the traditional public school system included: Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Texas.
and another from Mathematica Policy Research in 2011 saying
- We found that, on average, charter schools had no significant impacts on student achievement in math and reading.
- Impacts on measures of both student and parent satisfaction were statistically significant.
- We found that charter school impacts varied widely across schools.
- Impacts were most positive among schools in large, urban areas and among those serving the most disadvantaged students.