Charter school performance is more about demographic makeup of student bodies than educational strategies.

So concludes a report by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and the Arkansas Education Association.


This finding is much like those of many other studies around the country, but charter advocates pushing for looser rules for creation of charters in Arkansas aren’t likely to accept them because of the participation of AEA, the teachers union. Said a summary:

Looking at just test scores without considering demographic data, Arkansas’s charter schools perform relatively well compared to their traditional peer schools, as a 2009 study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, and others, have noted. This contrasts with the relative poor performance of charters around the country. Arkansas has a relatively small number of charters and has a careful screening process for the creation of new open enrollment charters that involves analysis by the state Board of Education. Arkansas’ charters are generally better than other states, but they still do not produce a statistically
significant improvement in test scores when key demographics are taken into account.

Demographics refer to race, ethnicity and poverty. The study compared test scores at charter schools with scores in surrounding school districts.