A Lesson for Detroit: New Study Shows Charter Schools Help Raise Performance of Nearby Traditional Public Schools

LANSING, Michigan (August 1, 2017) – A new research study from Temple University shows that charter schools actually help nearby traditional public schools perform better. The study, which looked at the performance of charter schools and traditional public schools in New York City, was first reported by Chalkbeat New York, which said the peer-reviewed study’s conclusion was that “traditional public schools should want to be as close as possible to multiple charter schools, and ideally share a building with one.”

The Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), the state charter school association, is urging charter school opponents to closely review the results of the study, since for years the false claim has been made that charter schools hurt traditional public schools.

MAPSA President Dan Quisenberry specifically urged Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), to review the study. Vitti has been critical of having charter schools in Detroit, and recently urged the DPSCD to stop authorizing charters in the city.

“We see in the Temple University study that when it comes to charter schools, a rising tide really does lift all boats,” Quisenberry said. “That’s a lesson for Detroit and every other community in Michigan. Charter schools don’t hurt traditional public schools – they help them. Dr. Vitti should be encouraging a high-performing charter school to locate in the underutilized space at some of his schools. This research should be eye-opening for anyone who opposes charters.”

According to Chalkbeat New York, “The study finds that being closer to a charter school led to small increases in math and reading scores, boosts in reported student engagement and school safety, and fewer students being held back a grade. The test score gains increased slightly more in traditional public schools that are co-located with a charter.”

Sarah Cordes, a professor at Temple University and the study’s author, suspects that her findings are the result of the competition stoked by charters. “I think having that close a proximity might really get administrators to get their act together,” she said. You can find the full report HERE.