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ERIC Number: ED570467
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Sep
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Lifting the Massachusetts Cap on Charter Schools: Pro and Con. Issue Brief
Eden, Max
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Massachusetts passed its first charter school law in 1993. Since then, the cap on the number of these public schools has been raised several times: in 1997, 2000, and 2010. Today, the state educates 40,200 students in 78 charter schools, and 32,600 students are on wait lists. This November, Bay State residents will vote by referendum, via Ballot Question 2, on whether to again lift the state's charter cap--this time, by allowing up to 12 new schools to launch each year, with preference given to charters opening in low-performing school districts. This issue brief seeks to help inform the debate around Ballot Question 2 by evaluating the claims of charter proponents and opponents. This issue brief finds that: (1) While it is true that, under Chapter 70 of Massachusetts' general laws, funding follows students from traditional public district schools to public charter schools, student enrollment in charter schools also effectively increases per-pupil expenditures at district schools. In 2016, charter enrollment had the effect of increasing per-pupil spending in district schools by approximately $85 million statewide. Even as the net amount of state aid to Boston Public Schools decreased by $56 million from FY11 to FY15, the BPS budget actually grew by 23.4% during that time period due to increased local expenditures; (2) There is convincing evidence that charter schools have raised the performance of students in them. Multiple "gold-standard" studies have confirmed that enrollment in Boston charter schools has caused significant increases in students' reading and math proficiency. Boston charters also improve long-term outcomes, including a sharp boost in SAT scores, increased likelihood of AP course taking, and a substantial shift in enrollment from two- to four-year postsecondary institutions; and (3) There is little evidence that the performance of students in charter schools is dragging down the performance of the traditional local public schools. From 2011 to 2015, English and math scores increased in the 10 districts with the highest local share of charter enrollment. The percentage of students scoring "advanced" or "proficient" in English on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System increased by nearly 15 points, on average, in these 10 districts. In math, eight of the 10 districts saw a higher percentage of students scoring "advanced" or "proficient," by nearly five points on average.
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Tel: 212-599-7000; Fax: 212-599-3494; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts (Boston)