Public education system, cost-effectiveness, return-on-investment
School choice skeptics frequently claim that public charter schools perform no better than traditional public schools (TPS) on standardized test scores. Although a few individual studies of public charter schools have supported that claim, the most comprehensive research reports conclude that, though results vary across states and charter school networks, on average public charter schools have a positive effect on student achievement. Charter school performance appears to be especially strong in cities. Moreover, none of the studies of the relative effectiveness of public charter schools have explicitly considered the funding differences that exist across the two public school sectors. All of our research team’s prior reports have found that students in public charter schools receive substantially fewer annual educational resources than their TPS peers. Private philanthropy does not compensate charters for the lack of equity in public funding because TPS receive it, too, and philanthropic dollars compose only 2.5 percent of total charter revenues nationally.
DeAngelis, Corey A.; Wolf, Patrick J.; Maloney, Larry D.; and May, Jay F., "Bigger Bang, Fewer Bucks? The Productivity of Public Charter Schools in Eight U.S. Cities" (2018). School Choice Demonstration Project. 2.