Statement by Commissioner Cerf on New Report on New Jersey Charter Schools from The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO)

For Immediate Release Contact: Barbara Morgan
Rich Vespucci
Date: November 27, 2012 609-292-1126

Education Commissioner Chris Cerf released the following statement today regarding The Center for Research on Education Outcomes' report on New Jersey charter schools:

 "The Center for Research on Education Outcomes' (CREDO) rigorous, independent analysis of the achievement results of charter schools in New Jersey shows that the results are clear – on the whole, New Jersey charter school students make larger learning gains in both reading and math than their traditional public school peers.  This is especially true for minority students and low-income students, with some of the largest gains in Newark, demonstrating that charter schools, on the whole, are providing much needed options for New Jersey students.  This study also makes clear that the charter accountability and authorizing process matters – it is not simply about the quantity of schools, it's about the quality of schools we approve and the standards to which we hold them while they are operating.

"This information reflects the work we have undertaken at the Department under the Christie Administration to increase our accountability standards, strengthen the rigor of our authorizing process, and when necessary, close schools that are underperforming. Not every charter school is successful, and as we have closed five low-performing charter schools in the past two years, we must hold all of our schools accountable for results.  It is time we end the outdated argument about whether a school is a district school or a charter school and instead focus on whether it is a great school providing high-quality options to New Jersey students."

Key findings from the report:

  • School level: "At the school level, 30 percent of the charter schools have significantly more positive learning gains than their TPS (traditional public school) counterparts in reading, while 11 percent of charter schools have significantly lower learning gains.  In math, 40 percent of the charter schools studied outperform their TPS peers and 13 percent perform worse.  These school-level results are notably more positive than the analogous pattern presented in the 2009 report."

  • Student level: "On average, students in New Jersey charter schools learned significantly more than their virtual counterparts in reading and mathematics."

  • Newark: "When we investigate the learning impacts of Newark charter schools separately, we find that their results are larger in reading and math than the overall state results."

  • Newark: "On average, charter students in New Jersey gain an additional two months of learning in reading over their TPS counterparts.  In math, the advantage for charter students is about three months of additional learning in one school year.  Charter students in Newark gain an additional seven and a half months in reading and nine months in math."
  • Black students: "Black students enrolled in charter schools show significantly better performance in reading and math compared to Black students in TPS."

  • Hispanic students: "In both math and reading, Hispanic students in charter schools perform significantly better than Hispanic students in TPS."

  • Black students in poverty: "Black students in poverty who are enrolled in charter schools show significantly better performance in reading and math compared to Black students in poverty in TPS."

  • Hispanic students in poverty: "In both math and reading, Hispanic students in poverty in charter schools perform significantly better than Hispanic students in poverty at TPS."