Growth and Gaps

Published on: May 15, 2015

Charter schools were designed to be public schools that facilitate educators’ efforts to navigate around bureaucratic inefficiencies and the influence of labor unions in traditional public schools.  But while these schools, and school choice in general, have a long and rich history in Milwaukee, there is still much room for expansion and improvement across the Badger State.  For years, legislators have prioritized traditional public schools, which tend to be one-sized-fits-all, over independent public charter schools.  But, which model is the best for our children?

WILL’s new policy brief, Growth and Gaps, conducts an econometric analysis with DPI data to evaluate how different types of public charter schools compare to traditional public schools throughout the state in student growth scores and closing the achievement gap.  In the study, we reached the following conclusions:

1.  Independent charter schools, i.e. those authorized by entities other than school districts, scored significantly higher on all student growth and achievement gaps measures than traditional public schools in Wisconsin.  Every independent charter is located in Milwaukee, with the exception of one in Racine.

2.  Public charter schools authorized by school districts (both instrumentality and non-instrumentality) scored significantly higher than traditional public schools on all student growth measures.

3.  Virtual charter schools authorized by the district (non-instrumentality only) received higher grades for student growth, especially for reading, than traditional public schools.

The full study, done by WILL Education Research Director Marty Lueken, Ph.D., can be found here.