June 4, 2007




Study of six Great Lakes states finds students in traditional public schools perform better, but charters are closing the gap


Contact: Teri Battaglieri – 517-203-2940;

                Gary Miron – 269-387-5895;


EAST LANSING, MI— Student achievement in charter schools in six Great Lakes states is lower than in traditional public schools according to a new study funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. The study also finds, however, that student achievement in charter schools is improving over time.


The study, “Evaluating the Impact of Charter Schools on Student Achievement: A Longitudinal Look at the Great Lakes States,” was conducted by Gary Miron, Chris Coryn and Dawn Mackety of the Western Michigan University Evaluation Center.


The researchers compared student achievement in math and reading in charter and traditional public schools over a five-year period in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.


The study’s primary finding is that student test results at nearly two-thirds of the charter schools in the Great Lakes region are lower than predicted when compared with those in demographically similar public schools. Despite charter performance in the region overall, at the school level they note that, “a number of successful charter schools are consistently performing better than expected.”


The researchers found that the lowest charter performance was in Indiana and Ohio – states with the newest charter school initiatives. They write while these two states “have the lowest current results, over time their charter schools are making relatively large improvements.” The improvement of these two states has been greater than states with the longest-standing charter school laws – Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The authors note that, “Illinois has the highest relative results, perhaps because some 15 percent of its charter schools have closed since 2000; when poor performing schools close, aggregate results for remaining schools rise.”


According to lead researcher Gary Miron, “There is a clear relationship between the performance of charter schools and the willingness and ability of authorizers to close poor performing schools. Closing such schools sends a message to other schools that they need to be highly accountable. Caps in states such as Illinois and Michigan have helped to slow the growth of charter schools and have increased the pressure for accountability.”


Miron concludes, “The intention of charter school reform was not to replicate the existing system, but to improve it by example and through competition. If charter schools are going to do this, they must demonstrate accountability and should outperform similar district schools on standardized tests.” 


Find the complete report “Evaluating the Impact of Charter Schools on Student Achievement: A Longitudinal Look at the Great Lakes States,” on the web at:



The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to identify, develop, support, publish and widely disseminate empirically sound research on education policy and practices designed to improve the quality of public education for all students within the Great Lakes Region. 

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