A new random assignment study on charter school achievement found significantly higher academic gains for students attending charter schools.
The study, conducted by Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby, examined test results for students in New York, and compared the academic gains of those students who win a lottery to attend charter schools to those students who lose the lottery and remain in traditional schools.
Among students who had spent their academic careers in charter schools, the average eighth grader in Ms. Hoxby's study had a state mathematics test score of 680, compared with 650 for those in traditional schools. The tests are generally scored on a roughly 500 to 800 scale, with 650 representing proficiency.Ms. Hoxby's study found that the charter-school students, who tend to come from poor and disadvantaged families, scored almost as well as students in the affluent Scarsdale school district in the suburbs north of the city. The English test results showed a similar pattern. The study also found students were more likely to earn a state Regents diploma, given to higher-achieving students, the longer they attended charter schools.
In Arizona the rate of new charter school openings has stalled in recent years. Other states have raced ahead by allowing universities and cities to authorize charter schools. Arizona should follow the examples of these states and encourage charter schools that provide access to high-quality education for our most vulnerable students.
Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president for research at the Goldwater Institute.