Washington’s charter public schools received very good marks in a recent research report from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), Stanford University.
The findings of this study show that on average, charter students in Washington State experience annual growth in reading and math that is on par with the educational gains of their matched peers who enroll in the traditional public schools (TPS) the charter school students would otherwise have attended. When we looked at school-level comparisons, we found important variation in performance. Two-fifths of charter schools had students showed academic progress that was significantly better than their local district options in math. In reading, three-fifths of the charter schools outpaced their local options. The analysis also reveals little differences in performance for students when examined by race/ethnicity groups or for students in designated student support programs. Specifically, English language learners enrolled in charter schools experience significantly higher learning growth that those enrolled in traditional public school settings.
The Seattle Times editorial board says,
This gold-standard research study from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, should halt efforts to shut down Washington’s charter system.
The ST reported on the study last week.
CREDO researchers note the difficult path followed by charter public schools in Washington, emphasizing the importance of the new research.
The need for evidence about charter school performance is especially strong in Washington State, where charter schools have been fought over for more than a decade. Washington’s initial charter school law, Chapter 28A.710RCW, was originally enacted by public referendum with Initiative Measure No. 1240 and approved by the voters in the November 2012 general election. The first enabling law was passed in 2014, but met quickly with legal challenge. The Washington State Supreme Court, in League of Women Voters V. State of Washington, issued a decision on September 4, 2015, that invalidated the law in its entirety. The 2016 Legislature passed E2SSB 6194, which re-enacted the prior charter school law with amendments. The amended bill became law as Chapter 241, Laws of 2016, without the governor’s signature. The new law was again challenged; in October 2018 the Washington State Supreme Court upheld the law as valid. With the legitimacy of charter schools no longer inquestion, their impact on their students’ education takes on a more central focus.
The ST editorial has it right: It’s time for the critics of the law to stand down. Focus instead on making sure students in all public schools – charter and traditional – are receiving the education they need to thrive.