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New Jersey Charters Score Well, Study Finds

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Children in New Jersey charter schools gained an average of three additional months of learning per year in math, and two additional months of learning in reading compared to students in traditional public schools, according to a new study.

The performance of New Jersey's charter schools were particularly impressive when compared to a recent national analysis conducted by the same group, released today by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, at Stanford University.

Thirty percent of the charters in New Jersey outperformed regular public schools in reading, and just 11 percent of charter had lesser gains than those schools.

In math, an even greater portion of charters, 40 percent, outclassed traditional public schools, while 13 percent fared worse.

By comparison, charter schools across the country outperformed traditional schools in their districts 17 percent of the time, according to an analysis conducted by the center in 2009. That study examined charters in 16 states.

The study was based on an analysis of students in grades 3-8 over a five-year period, from 2007 to 2011. The authors used a method known as a "virtual control record" to compare students in charter schools against students with the same academic experiences as those in traditional public schools.

At the time of the study, there were about 70 charter schools in New Jersey. The analysis examined the performance over time of 10,772 students in 60 charters. Most of the state's charters were clustered in five cities: Camden, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, and Trenton, the authors noted.

The academic showing of charters was not uniform across districts.

Urban charters scored especially well in reading and math compared to their traditional school counterparts, and suburban charters performed at a similarly high level. But students in rural charter schools in New Jersey learned significantly less than traditional public school peers, the study found.

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