Study: Missouri Charter Schools Get High Marks for Academics; but Report from Researchers at Stanford University Points to Troubling Trend in Reading

Article excerpt

A national study of charter school performance shows that reading growth at Missouri's charter schools has slid since 2009, but the schools' academic performance overall is outpacing the national average.

Researchers at Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes used test data from 26 states, including Missouri, to assess how charter schools are performing across the nation. According totheir report released this week, students in Missouri's charter schools are getting an extra 14 days worth of learning in reading and 22 extra days worth of learning in math than their peers in the Kansas City and St. Louis school systems.

While Missouri's results indicate charter school students are growing more academically, they also indicate that growth in reading has slowed. In 2009, the researchers reported that Missouri charter school students were getting an extra 22 days worth of reading compared with the 14 reported in the current study. The new report includes data from the six Imagine charter schools in St. Louis that the state Board of Education closed last year for academic failure.

"The report definitely shows charter schools are having a positive impact in the lives of Missouri public schools students," said Earl Simms, spokesman for the Missouri Charter Public School Association. That said, "There's always room for improvement," he added.

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are independent of school districts. St. Louis has 23, and Kansas City has 34.

Last year, the Legislature authorized charters to open in any unaccredited school district. But they have yet to appear in Normandy or Riverview Gardens, the two unaccredited districts in St. Louis County.

Nationally, the results show charter schools are improving. …

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