Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) just released a new study on academic performance at Indianapolis K-12 charter, innovation network and traditional public schools. Building on the results from its previous 2019 study, it once again found learning gains for students attending innovation network and charter schools compared to their peers in traditional public schools.
CREDO finds considerable gains for charter and innovation students
CREDO’s 2022 study uses data from the 2018-19 school year. It found that students in Indianapolis charter schools achieved growth equivalent to:
- 64 days of additional learning in ELA and
- 116 days of additional learning in math relative to students at direct-run schools across the Indianapolis Public Schools district.
Even more notably, the study found Indianapolis charter school students achieved growth that surpassed the statewide public school average.
Meanwhile, results from innovation network schools are also positive. Students who attend innovation network schools achieved growth equivalent to:
- 38 days of additional learning in ELA and
- 47 days of additional learning in math when compared to students at direct-run schools in Indianapolis.
Thousands more students attend autonomous schools today than when the previous study was conducted. Thus, not only are these schools leading students to incredible academic growth; the number of students they serve every year just keeps increasing.
This ultimately proves one of The Mind Trust’s core beliefs: Children, no matter their background or circumstances, can excel under the right conditions. A growing body of evidence shows that innovation network and charter schools are providing the right conditions for students. Families are noticing and making good on the promise of school choice by trusting their students’ education to these schools in increasing numbers year over year.
CREDO results point to more equitable outcomes for students of color
I’d be remiss if I didn’t connect these results to one of our organizational diversity, equity and inclusion commitments. It reads: “We commit to pursuing antiracism by eliminating the predictability of outcomes associated with race or other identity markers through our work for our city’s students and staff.” CREDO’s research proves that autonomous schools lead to more equitable outcomes for students of color and low-income students than the status quo.
We also see a more equitable education being delivered through these schools in how results break out by student subgroups. For instance, Black students at Indianapolis charter schools achieved growth equivalent to:
- 86 days of additional learning in ELA and
- 144 days of additional learning in math relative to Black students in Indianapolis traditional public schools.
Here’s one more. Hispanic students at Indianapolis charter schools achieved growth equivalent to:
- 73 days of additional learning in ELA and
- 109 days of additional learning in math relative to Hispanic students in Indianapolis traditional public schools.
Those incredibly promising numbers hold for multiple historically marginalized groups. You can view the full results for subgroups that also include analyses for low-income, ELL, and special education students at themindtrust.org/indycredo.
Doubling down on what works
Every single member of The Mind Trust’s team is hard at work to ensure all students have access to a great education. I love the celebratory moments that help us see continued progress. However, I am under no illusion as to how much work remains. Despite these incredible results, too many students of color and low-income students continue to be failed by schools that do not provide them with transformative opportunities.
Our current strategic plan is built to change that, with a headline goal to triple student achievement outcomes within the next five years. Resting on our laurels just isn’t something you’re going to see at The Mind Trust. Audacious goals are nothing less than what our city’s kids deserve. CREDO’s research is a confidence booster. It is also a call to double down on what we are seeing conclusively produce better results than what our students received before.
Achieving education progress does not get easier with each passing year. Progress is not always as quick as we know our students deserve. But to me, CREDO’s results are not just another example of incrementalism. I believe we are on the verge of an acceleration in student achievement that will rival any other city in this country. I hope you’ll join us in continuing to push for that welcome day when all Indianapolis students receive an excellent education.
Brandon Brown is CEO of The Mind Trust, an education nonprofit.