“Gap-busting” N.C. Charter Organizations Recognized in Landmark National Report

By July 14, 2023 News

Several North Carolina charter management organizations (CMOs) have earned recognition as “gap-busting” schools in a landmark national study comparing charter and traditional public school performance. Coalition members Roger Bacon Academy (RBA), National Heritage Academies, and KIPP Eastern North Carolina were among CMOs nationwide commended for their success in closing achievement gaps. The report was released by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). Congratulations to these CMOs!

Criteria for inclusion as a “gap-buster” were rigorous, requiring high performance for schools overall as well as for subgroups of disadvantaged students. However, numerous charters are making the grade, as CREDO notes (p. 69):

We found hundreds of schools that satisfy dual criteria: (1) the average achievement of the school exceeds the state average, and (2) their disadvantaged students (Black, Hispanic, in-poverty, ELL) have growth as strong or stronger than their non- disadvantaged peers in the same school.

Significant achievement gains for charters, with CMOs leading performance

Overall, the CREDO study revealed significant achievement gains for students attending public charter schools. Researchers reported learning outcomes in terms of days of learning–gained or lost, across the academic year. Compared to traditional public schools, charter schools advanced the learning of their students by an average of 16 days in reading and 6 days in math.

Charter schools were particularly effective in producing learning gains for disadvantaged students, CREDO found. However, charters run by CMOs produced even bigger gains than stand-alone charter schools–27 days in reading and 23 days in math.

Policy implications from the report

The success of gap-busting schools has big and exciting implications for education, as CREDO’s researchers write (p. 151):

The real surprise of the study is the number of charter schools that have achieved educational equity for their students: we call them “gap-busting” schools. Ensuring equivalent yearly growth across student groups has two critical consequences. First, ensuring minority and poverty students learn on par with or better than their White peers interrupts or reduces the achievement gap. It happens regularly in a large swath of charter schools. More critically, there is strong evidence that these gap-busting schools can be scaled. Added to the traditional district schools that achieve similar results, this is the life-transforming education that so many students need. Second, these schools deliver hundreds of independent proof points that learning gaps between student groups are not structural or inevitable; better results are possible.

Find detailed information about CMOs in the report appendix, which begins on page 122. Specific information can be found for KIPP ENC (p. 129), National Heritage Academies (p. 130), and Roger Bacon Academy (p.132).

Kristen Blair

Author Kristen Blair

Kristen Blair is the communications director for the North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools.

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