Nationwide charter school study finds overall performance improvement

2013-06-25T00:01:00Z Nationwide charter school study finds overall performance improvementBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

A national study finds improvement in the overall performance of charter schools, driven in part by the presence of more high-performing charters and the closure of under-performing schools.

The National Charter School Study 2013, released Tuesday by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, is an update and expansion of the agency's 2009 landmark 16-state study. It is the first study to take a comprehensive look at the impact of charter schools on student performance.

The 2009 study found a wide variance in quality among charter schools in the country, with students in such schools not faring as well in the aggregate as those attending traditional public schools.

Indiana was not included in the first study but was among those states analyzed in the 2013 report. According to the study, a typical student in an Indiana charter school, particularly in Indianapolis, gains more in a year than his or her peers in the traditional public school environment.

However, the study said there were "pockets of concern" in other parts of the state. Gary has a large concentration of charter schools.

For the first time in many years, Ball State University notified seven of its charter schools earlier this year that it would not renew those charters because of poor academic performance. Three of those schools are in Gary.

LEAD College Prep will close June 30. West Gary Lighthouse Charter withdrew its application for renewal and will close June 30. However, school officials are restructuring the school and plan to reopen this fall.

Charter School of the Dunes in Gary, also set to close at the end of the month, found another authorizing agency in Calumet College of St. Joseph and will remain open.

These charter schools are the first Ball State has closed since 2004 when it nixed Urban Brightest in Fort Wayne.

Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said it would be "premature" to make a comment on the report without having read it.

However, she said Gary students will be able to compete with other students as the district improves technology and learning.

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