Are charter schools harming public school students?

By Caleb Taylor

Does charter school competition harm students in traditional public schools?

According to research conducted by ACRE experts, the answer is no.

ACRE Policy Analyst Dr. Mavuto Kalulu, ACRE Scholar and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Thomas Snyder, and UCA Mathematics Graduate Student Saliou N. Ouattara were recently published in the Fall 2017 edition of the EJournal of Education Policy.

Their article, Charter Schools’ Impact on Traditional Public School Performance: Evidence from Arkansas finds a “positive and statistically-significant relationship” between elementary charter school enrollment and traditional Iowa Assessment scores across school districts.

More specifically, improvements in traditional public school students’ math, reading and language test scores were greater in school districts that had a larger percentage of students enrolled in charter schools. The results suggest that test scores will rise over 1 point (1-100 scale) for every 10 percentage-point increase in charter school enrollment in a school district.

Kalulu, Snyder and Ouattara conclude:

“The number of open-enrollment charters schools in Arkansas is growing, and the performance of the charter schools have been positive. However, critics of charter schools typically say that the emergence of charter schools will harm traditional public schools. The charter schools may skim the best students and may leave those with special needs to traditional public schools. If so, the authors would expect to see charter school enrollment negatively affect the average student performance in traditional public schools. The evidence suggests the opposite. The study finds a significant positive change in test scores with charter school options.”

The rest of ACRE’s work on K-12 education can be found here.