Study Finds Students at Charters and Magnets Have Made ‘Meaningful Gains’

Published July 1, 2015

A newly released study by the Connecticut State Department of Education finds “meaningful gains” in two groupings of inner-city students attending the state’s public charter and magnet schools.

Data collected from 2010–12 revealed magnet and charter school students in 3rd through 5th grades and 6th through 8th grades fared better academically than students in traditional public schools.

“Evaluating the Academic Performance of Choice Programs in Connecticut: A Pretest-Posttest Evaluation Using Matched Multiple Quasi-Control Comparison Groups” found students’ scores on the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) showed “statistically meaningful gains” at the “proficient” level for the younger grade group attending magnet schools or “Open Choice” schools. CMT revealed similar results for the older grade group attending public charter schools.

“Every teacher was pleased to see the report,” said Bruce Douglas, executive director of the Capitol Region Education Council, one of six Regional Educational Service Centers (RESC) in Connecticut. RESCs exist in 40 states and act as an intermediary between states’ education departments and local school districts.

“I believe all teachers in Connecticut are committed to eliminating the achievement gap, but not all teachers are equally led, resourced, or given high quality professional development,” Douglas said.  

Underserved ‘Benefitting Academically’

“By looking at the performance of public schools of choice in Connecticut, this study shows students in our state’s urban and traditionally underserved communities are benefitting academically from having access to high quality educational options,” said Jennifer Alexander, chief executive officer for Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, a Hartford-based school reform advocacy organization.

“At [Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now], we maintain that every child, regardless of race, wealth, or ZIP code, deserves access to a high quality education that will set them up for a lifetime of success and opportunity,” Alexander said.

Connecticut has nation’s worst achievement gap between black and white students, and it needs choice programs to enable children to attend better schools, Alexander says.

“The results of this study demonstrate the important role high quality schools of choice play in closing Connecticut’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gap and providing a great education for our kids, particularly for our most vulnerable students,” Alexander said. “With nearly 40,000 students currently attending chronically underperforming schools, we must continue to invest in high quality public schools of choice that are delivering results for our children and provide all our students with the … world-class education they need and deserve.”

“Teachers in Connecticut, charter, local public, or magnet schools are focused on serving the best interests of children every day,” said Douglas. “That is why we are beginning to see a remarkable decline in the achievement gap in various schools and school districts. We should be very proud of and thankful for our teachers’ dedication and diligence. Yet, we still have a long way to go.”

Bruce Edward Walker ([email protected]) is a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute.

Image by KIPPschools.

Internet Info

Ajit Gopalakrishnan, Kenneth Imperato, Mark Linabury, and Dr. R.F. Mooney, “Evaluating the Academic Performance of Choice Programs in Connecticut: A Pretest-Posttest Evaluating Using Matched Multiple Quasi-Control Comparison Groups,” Connecticut State Department of Education: