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Major New Stanford Study Highlights “Gap Busting” Public Charter Schools

A major new Stanford CREDO study of over 3 million public school students found students at public charter schools outperform traditional public school students. And the study highlighted Rocketship Public Schools as one of the charter sector’s “gap busting” networks that are providing empirical proof that high-quality public education is possible anywhere.

Rocketeers gain 5 to 7 months of additional learning per year.
The study found that nationwide public charter school students gain the equivalent of 16 additional days of learning in reading and 6 additional days of learning in math compared to their peers in the traditional public schools they would have otherwise attended. At Rocketship, our Rocketeers gained significantly more – the equivalent of 96 additional days of learning in reading and 138 additional days of learning in math. That is equivalent to five to seven months of additional learning in a single school year.

No evidence of “cherry picking.”
A common, unfounded claim is that charter schools “cherry pick” the best students as a way to improve their results. In multiple analyses this major study found the opposite is true. Charter schools enroll students who are disproportionately lower achieving than the students in traditional schools. Charter schools are serving the students most in need and realizing stronger results.

Sector struggles to serve special education students with excellence.
The charter sector as a whole is not delivering on its promise for students with special needs. There is no difference in outcomes between special education students at CMO-affiliated public charter schools and those at traditional public schools. We need to do better as a sector. We need to hold our sector accountable to truly serving all students with excellence. We need to learn from and adopt best practices that are realizing results for students receiving special education services. At Rocketship, our meaningful inclusion model is one proven practice that we hope to see more schools adopt. That said, our model is far from perfect and we know we have much to learn ourselves as we continue to work to deliver an exceptional education for all our Rocketeers.

Margaret “Macke” Raymond, founder and director of CREDO, put it best when she said that “what you’re looking at is really the only story in U.S. education policy where we’ve been able to create a set of conditions such that schools actually do get better.” Indeed, this study makes clear that public charter schools are driving significant progress in public education. And at the core of that progress is our commitment to continuous learning, innovation, improvement, and meeting the unique needs of all students and families. All of us at Rocketship are tremendously proud to play a significant role in demonstrating what is possible in public education.

Here is the full study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. And here is a video from CREDO that provides a helpful overview of the study and its findings.

Published on June 21, 2023

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