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Colorado charter schools outperforming district-run schools after pandemic, finds Keystone study

Colorado charter schools outperforming district-run schools after pandemic
Colorado charter schools outperforming district-run schools after pandemic 01:04

A new report finds that coming out of the pandemic, charter schools in Colorado outperform district-managed schools on a number of key measures.

The study was done by the Keystone Policy Center.

It found that 85% of charter school students attend schools meeting "performance" standards on the state School Performance Framework.  While just 66% of district-managed students attended schools with the same rating.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, a charter school in Colorado is a public school operated by a group of parents, teachers and/or community members as a semi-autonomous school of choice, operating under a contract or "charter" contract between the members of the charter school community and either the local board of education or the state Charter School Institute (CSI), depending on which entity oversees the charter school.

The Keystone study found the performance gap was considerably wider at schools serving low-income families. 66% of charter school students attending schools where three fourths qualify for federally funded free and reduced price lunch were at schools meeting performance standards. While only 19% of students in high poverty district-run schools were attending performance-rated schools.

Keystone Policy Center

The study's lead author Van Schoales, Senior Policy Director at Keystone Policy Center, said, "Colorado charter schools were doing significantly better particularly serving students from low income families."

He added, "There are some really effective charter schools. So we need to look at what those schools are doing and learn from them. That's true for district managed schools as well. Unfortunately in education it's very rare that you're able to look at what's working and replicate it."

Although charter school students in grades 3 through 8 outperformed their peers in district-managed schools in math and literacy, fewer than half of all public school students are meeting grade-level expectations in those subjects.

All the data used in the report came from publicly available Colorado Department of Education records. Read the full report here.

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