Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Study: Hispanic, ELL Students See Gains in Charter Schools

Hispanic students  who are economically disadvantaged and those who are English Language Learners are excelling in charter schools much more now than in past years, according to a study of charter schools conducted by Stanford University researchers.

The  2013 National Charter School Study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes found that the number of high-performing charter schools is increasing as underperforming charters are being shut down.

The study of students in 26 states and New York City found that about 25 percent of the charter schools studied had stronger reading learning gains than traditional schools, while 19 percent were weaker. In math, 29 percent of charter schools were significantly stronger than traditional public schools and 31 percent were weaker. Researchers studied individual students’ performance and growth on state exams in both subjects.

In the new study, researchers found that low-income black and Hispanic students and Hispanic students who are ELLs had significantly greater learning advantages in charter school than compared with their peers in traditional public schools. According to the study, the advantage in reading for Hispanic ELLs added up to about 50 extra days of instruction and in math, it was 43 days.

However, for black and Hispanic children who were not economically disadvantaged or ELLs, those advantages did not exist, except for Hispanics in general in reading.

“The charter sector does seem to be posting better results, especially with disadvantaged students,” said Margaret Raymond, director of Stanford’s CREDO, told Bloomberg news. “The fact that they are moving the needle with this many students since 2009 is a pretty impressive finding.”

According to the study, about 4 percent of public school students nationwide attend charter schools, totaling about 2.3 million students.

In contrast, CREDO’s previous 2009 study of 16 states found that charter school students were not performing as well as those students attending traditional public schools. Researchers say that since that study, Hispanic, black, ELL, and poor charter school students in those students experienced academic gains in reading and math.

In addition, Hispanic students had greater gains in reading than traditional public school students, and ELLs performed better in reading and math.