News Story

The Numbers Are In: Detroit Charters Outperform Detroit District Schools

Detroit charter school students also have higher graduation and college attendance rates

An analysis released late last year suggests that students in Detroit charter schools attain a higher level of academic achievement on most subjects than their peers in the city’s conventional public school district.

Detroit charter school students outperformed on the English language arts and math sections of Michigan’s standardized test, the M-STEP. The analysis also shows that on average, charter school students had higher graduation rates and college enrollment rates than students who attended conventional public schools.

The data, which was compiled by The Skillman Foundation, compares scores from standardized state tests, graduation rates and college enrollment rates of Detroit’s public school district students and those attending public charter schools, as well as statewide averages.

In some subjects in some tests, students in Detroit district schools did better than those attending charters in the city. According to the study, district school students performed better on the “evidence-based reading and writing” and math sections of the SAT.

Detroit students attending both types of public school, charter and district, fell short of statewide averages in all subject matters covered.

“This data shows yet again that charter schools in Detroit are doing a superior job when it comes to student achievement,” said Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. “There’s still so much that needs to be done to lift student achievement across the board, but it’s simply a fact that students are learning more and they’re learning faster at charter schools in Detroit, compared to other types of public schools.”

Since 2013, two other major studies from The Center for Research on Educational Outcomes at Stanford University reached a similar conclusion. The studies from CREDO take poverty, race and other factors into account while compiling the data about academic performance.

The 2015 CREDO study analyzed student and school data from 2006 through 2012. It found that for each year a student attends a Detroit charter school, he or she receives the equivalent of a few weeks to as much as several months of additional learning in reading and math compared to peers at Detroit’s district schools. The study also said that Detroit’s charter schools should serve as a model for the rest of the country.

The 2013 CREDO study found charter schools students in Detroit elementary, middle and K-12 (multilevel) charter schools all outperformed their peers in the city’s district schools.

There are 36,374 students attending public charter schools and 49,758 students attending traditional public schools in Detroit according to the most recent data available from the MAPSA and Detroit’s public school district.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.