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Louisiana Charters Outpace Regular Schools, Study Says

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On average, charter school students in Louisiana gain an additional two months of learning in reading and three months in math compared with traditional public school students, says a new study by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes.

The results are more pronounced in New Orleans, where charter school students gain an additional four months of learning in reading and five additional months of learning in math, the study found.

The study examined performance data for students in grades 3-8 from the 2005-06 school year until the 2010-11 school year.

The vast majority—85 percent—of the charter schools in Louisiana are concentrated in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. In fact, 58 new charter schools have opened in the state since 2007.

Only about 14 percent of charter schools in Louisiana have students who perform significantly worse in reading and math than comparable students in the regular public school system. That number drops to 6 percent in reading and 4 percent in math when looking at New Orleans specifically.

The results of the Louisiana-specific study puts charters in the state far ahead of the average charter school nationwide when compared with CREDO's recent 26-state National Charter School Study, which found that only 25 percent of charters outperform regular public schools in reading, and 29 percent do in math. Those numbers jump to 41 percent in reading and 42 percent in math for Louisiana specifically.

The researchers used a "virtual control record" in which students in charter schools are compared with their "virtual twins" who attend regular public schools that the charter students would have otherwise attended. Twins are chosen to match the charter school student's standardized test score, race and ethnicity, special education considerations, free-or-reduced-lunch participation, English proficiency, grade level, and grade retention, in order to compare performance at the two sets of schools.

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