University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Stanford Charter Schools Report: National Gains; Arkansas Decline

In The View from the OEP on June 25, 2013 at 10:17 am


Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released a study today looking at charter school gains across the country, including right here in Arkansas.  This is the “most comprehensive study ever conducted of charter school performance,” with over one million charter students considered in the study.

The study finds that charter schools are making progress around the nation, on average.  The twenty-six state study showed significant gains in learning for impoverished students, black students, and English language learners in charter schools, as compared to their “virtual twins” in traditional public schools. To complement this growth, these three groups have seen their enrollment in charters shows increase over the course of this study, from 2009 to 2013.

Here at the OEP, we are more than glad that these types of rigorous studies are being done to look at innovative solutions to improve education across the country.  With growth or decline, it is important for this information to be seen by politicians and parents alike, so that all can make informed decisions about the future of education.

Concerning our charter schools here in Arkansas, the study shows that while there was growth in the 2008-09 year (in math and reading), Arkansas charters have seen a slight decline in scores during 2009-11.  One potential explanation for this slow-down is that these analyses include the scores of four low-performing charter schools, which have since been closed. While this does not explain away all of the decline, it does show the Arkansas reauthorization system for charters does have teeth to close schools that cannot meet the standards our state expects.

The OEP has testified about the performance of a few charter schools in Arkansas to the State Board of Education.  What makes this system work is that these schools are held accountable.

As the best schools endure, we all hope that Arkansas charter schools will shine bright in the coming years, and that all schools around state, traditional or charter or any kind, will continue to grow and meet the needs of our children.


Special note: We want to give a special “shout-out” to former OEP Graduate Researcher and Arkansas native Dr. James L. Woodworth who was one of the authors of this report.  We wish him all the best!


  1. huge snaps to Dr. Woodworth!

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