Report shows LA charter schools outperforming public schools

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By Bruno Girin, Flickr

According to new research from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, charter school students in LAUSD have a huge advantage over their public school peers. Almost half of charter school students have significantly larger gains in reading when compared to traditional schools, and 44 percent perform much better in math.

The discrepancy is especially pronounced for Hispanic students in poverty, who gained even more drastic advantages from attending a charter school.

The researchers matched similar students (based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, prior test scores, etc…), evaluated them at the same starting point, and then again at the end of the year. They concluded that it would take the traditional public school student 50 school days to catch up to his counterpart in reading, and 79 to catch up in math, at the end of the school year.

Today our friend’s at Press Play discussed the report. Madeleine Brand spoke to a co-author of the study, Stanford’s Dev Davis. She clarified that, “it’s not that the typical charter student spends more time in school, it’s that they gain more days of learning while in school.” She added that the study only highlights the differences between traditional public schools and charter schools, but doesn’t give much insight into why the differences exist.

CREDO translated the statistical results of academic achievement between similar students in Los Angeles Unified district and charter schools, as measured by standard deviations, into additional learning days. Charter school students showed significant gains in reading and math in all grades, but middle school math showed the biggest gain, the equivalent of 158 extra days of learning, nearly a full year. Source: CREDO’s “Charter School Performance in Los Angeles Unified.” (Via

Warren Fletcher, President of United Teachers Los Angeles, also joined the show and said that the study suffers from a serious selection bias, along with other flaws. Further, charter schools reserve the right to select their students, while public schools do not.

Nationally, charter schools have an advantage over traditional schools, but the discrepancy in Los Angeles is more pronounced. But LAUSD superintendent John Deasy pointed to the research as an encouraging sign of the progress the school district has made.