Earlier this week the Newark Municipal Council Education Committee quizzed Superintendent Roger León about district student learning loss; meanwhile an analysis found that Newark public charter school students made up more ground than their traditional district counterparts. During the meeting Kyle Rosenkrans, Executive Director of the New Jersey Children’s Foundation, presented documentation on the impact of charters in Newark, including how their presence increases district revenue; how the growth of Newark’s charter sector improves learning for district students; and how Newark charters retain students with disabilities and English Language Learners.
Here is the research cited by Rosenkrans.
Research on Newark Charter School Student Learning & Cross-Sector Improvement: A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
- Nationally, a growing body of research shows that the growth of charter schools leads to improved learning at nearby school districts, particularly in urban areas. See How Do Charter Schools Affect System-Level Test Scores and Graduation Rates? A National Analysis, Fung Chen, Douglas Harris, Tulane University (2022); see also Still Rising: Charter School Enrollment and Student Achievement at the Metropolitan Level, Amber Northern, Michael Petrilli, Fordham Institute (2022).
- Newark has proved this national trend to be true over the last decade-plus of rapid charter growth that saw the district schools test scores and graduation rates improve over the same period, and faster than nearly any other low-income district in New Jersey. See A New Baseline: Progress in Newark’s District and Charter Schools from 2006 to 2018, Jesse Margolis Ph.D, Margrady Research, (2019); See also Will Urban Schools that Beat the Odds Continue to Do So During the COVID-19 Pandemic?, Jesse Margolis Ph.D, Margrady Research, (2019).
- National research is also showing us that the expansion of charter schools does not result in a decrease in per student spending or revenue at host districts, in fact, the data show increases in revenue and spending. See Robbers or Victims? Charter Schools and District Finances, David Griffith, Michael Petrilli, Fordham Institute (2021).
- This national trend has also been true in Newark, as the Newark Board of Education is spending more on its schools on a per student basis today ($24,987 per student budgeted for FY23), with 18,000+ Newark resident students in charter schools, than it did 10 years ago ($21,023 in FY13), when charters were half of the size, at 9,334 students. SOURCE: NBOE Budget Information from SY 2022-23 and 2012-13 (general fund expenditures – charter payments / NBOE K-12 student enrollment).
Newark Charter Performance Is Not Statistical Fluke
- A 2020 Boston University study compared student performance at Newark’s district and charter schools while controlling for student demographics and found that “enrollment in a Newark charter school that participated in the common enrollment system leads to large improvements in math and English language arts (ELA) test scores, on average.” The Effect of Attending a Charter School in Newark, New Jersey on Student Test Scores, Marcus Winters Ph.D., Boston University (2020).
- A 2021 Stanford University study also controlled for student demographics and found that Newark charter school students made stronger gains than the New Jersey’s state average in all three school years studied–no small feat in a state frequently ranked number one in public education. City Study 2021: Newark, Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes (2021).
- A 2021 Boston University study found that Newark charter schools do not “push out” students with special needs, and English Language Learners. In fact, these students were more likely to remain enrolled at charter schools than at district schools, and more likely to improve their learning such that they no longer needed special education and english language learner services. The Effect of Charter Schooling on Student Mobility and Classification Status, Allison Gilmour, Colin Shanks, & Marcus A. Winters, Boston University (2021).
(Photo courtesy of New Jersey Globe.)