Study shows charters modestly outpacing traditional Milwaukee schools

Erin Richards:

Milwaukee students enrolled in charter schools showed modestly higher levels of academic growth in math and reading compared to their peers in traditional public schools, according to a national study released Wednesday.

But the so-called “charter lift” is not enough to offset the overall achievement deficit facing children in urban Milwaukee compared to the rest of the state, the study said.

Still, charter-school advocates were quick to embrace the results, as bills to expand charter schools are pending in Wisconsin and other states.

“The (new) report is one more piece of evidence that charter schools in Milwaukee lead the way in closing the achievement gap,” said Sean Roberts, executive director of Milwaukee Charter School Advocates.

The Urban Charter School Study was conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University. It concludes that students in urban charter schools receive the equivalent of about 40 days of additional learning per year in math and about 28 additional days of learning in reading compared to their peers in conventional urban public schools.

In Milwaukee, the study showed the positive effect of charter schools relative to traditional public schools was stronger in math than in reading.

Charter schools are independently run, non-religous public schools. They receive flexibility from some some state rules in exchange for meeting academic performance targets spelled out in a contract with a state-approved authorizer.

Meanwhile, Madison continues its one size fits all K-12 governance model, despite long term, disastrous reading results.