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Illinois Charter School Students Outperform District-Operated Peers in Both Reading and Math

Posted on: June 15, 2023


A new study from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) found that both nationally and in the state of Illinois, charter school students showed more growth than their counterparts in traditional public schools.

CHICAGO, IL — The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) is thrilled with the results of a new study that found the instructional impact of Illinois charter schools on student learning was determined to be the equivalent of 39.9 additional school days for reading and 48 additional school days for math. The As a Matter of Fact: The National Charter School Study III, published by Stanford University’s CREDO, measured learning outcomes in terms of school days, where above-average student growth is demonstrated as extra days of instructional time, and below-average growth is demonstrated as the number of days needed to make up for the difference.

In Illinois, charter public schools educate nearly 60,000 students and serve a higher-needs student population than traditional school districts. Statewide, 97% of charter students are students of color and 85% qualify for free or reduced lunch. The results of this study demonstrate the impact schools can have on closing achievement gaps for students and it proves all students can achieve academically, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

“These results show truly impressive learning gains among charter school students,” said INCS President Andrew Broy. “CREDO’s research confirms that charter schools’ autonomy and flexibility are instrumental in creating schools that close stubborn academic gaps and best meet the needs of students, particularly those from historically and systematically underserved communities.”

A highlight from the report also shows the positive impact several Chicago charter management organizations (CMOs) had on student learning by increasing students’ reading and math growth by nearly an entire school year or half a school year. These “gap busting” schools according to the CREDO report have eliminated learning disparities for their students and moved their achievement ahead of their respective state’s average performance.

  • Top Performing Illinois CMOs – Math*
    • Noble Schools: 168 additional days of learning
    • KIPP Chicago 117 days
    • ReGeneration Schools 87 days
    • LEARN Charter School Network 71 days
    • U Chicago Charter School 55 days
  • Top Performing Illinois CMOs – Reading*
    • ReGeneration Schools: 101 additional days of learning
    • Noble Schools: 86 days
    • KIPP Chicago: 76 days
    • LEARN Charter School Network: 54 days
    • Betty Shabazz International Charter School: 53 days

“This same autonomy allowed Illinois charter schools to quickly support charter school students during the Covid-19 pandemic,” noted Broy. “Amidst global disruptions to classrooms, charter schools were able to be responsive to student, family, and community needs. Now, as schools around the country continue to grapple with learning loss, the data is clear that the charter model is prepared to provide students with a high-quality public education.”

This is CREDO’s third edition of The National Charter School Study, which used data spanning from school years 2014-2015 to 2018-2019. The prior two editions were published in 2009 and 2013.

*Source: The Center for Research on Educational Outcomes, “As a Matter of Fact: The National Charter School Study III” (2023).

The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) advocates for the improvement of public education by leveraging the charter school model as a catalyst to transform lives and communities. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to create systemic change and secure high-quality schools for underserved communities. Learn more at