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Analysis: Charter Schools Yield 53% Greater Return on Investment Than Traditional Public Schools

April 17, 2019 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis, Patrick J. Wolf, Larry D. Maloney, Jay F. May

Corey A. DeAngelis, Patrick J. Wolf, Larry D. Maloney, & Jay F. May

Charter schools are the object of intense national debate. They
shouldn’t be. The data show that public charters are a good

In five studies that we’ve conducted during the past
several years, we’ve compared traditional schools and charter
schools in a diverse roster of U.S. cities where a substantial
portion of families are choosing charters. We’ve examined how
much funding each sector receives and how much learning each
produces. The facts are quite clear:

Charter schools do more with less.

Our first report, “Charter School Funding: Inequity in the
,” identified a significant funding gap between
traditional and chartered public schools. In 14 cities spanning the
country, from the nation’s capital to Memphis to Los Angeles,
charter schools received considerably less funding — an
average of $5,721 per pupil — than traditional schools. To
put it another way, families sacrificed about one third of their
educational resources when they chose to enroll in charter

Two years later we revisited these same 14 cities and found that
the funding gap between traditional and charter schools had
increased slightly to an average of $5,828 per pupil. Local funding
sources, including property and sales taxes, were the biggest
contributors to the disparity. (A third report that focused on
New York City’s charter and traditional schools
yielded similar findings.)

At the same time, we wanted to factor in academic achievement.
In 2018 we completed a study measuring the cost-effectiveness
— the amount of learning per educational dollars spent
— of charter and traditional schools. To determine academic
performance, we used results from the National Assessment of
Educational Progress and the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at
Stanford University.

For that study, we focused on eight cities that, despite their
different sizes and demographics, all have substantial charter
sectors: Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, New York
City, San Antonio, and Washington, D.C. In each city, we found that
charter schools were more academically
than traditional schools.

We found that charter schools continued to demonstrate greater
value than traditional schools in a follow-up report released
earlier this month. “A Good Investment: The Updated Productivity of
Public Charter Schools in Eight U.S. Cities
” reports that
in reading, charter schools averaged 4.80 points higher — per
$1,000 funded — than traditional schools, making charters 40
percent more cost-effective in reading. In math, charters average
5.13 points higher per $1,000 funded, making them 40 percent more
cost-effective in math.

We also measured the taxpayer return-on-investment generated by
each sector. Our most recent report …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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