The voice of California’s charter school movement

California Charter Public Schools Now Outperform Traditional Public Schools, CREDO Study Finds

By Ana Tintocalis

Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), one of the country’s most respected and prestigious research entities in the U.S., has provided clear evidence about a trend that charter public school supporters have been touting for the past several years:

Charter public schools across the country have evolved over time and charter public school students are now showing greater academic gains than their peers in traditional public schools.

As a Matter of Fact: The National Charter School Study is CREDO’s third body of research tracking the academic performance of charters in America. The findings of its first study were released in 2009. The second report was released in 2013.

In California, based on the latest findings, charter public schools are performing well, gaining the equivalent of 11 days of reading and 4 days of math compared to similar students in traditional public school since the first CREDO report was released.

Existing charters that belong to charter management organizations and networks are helping drive the positive trend. Roughly 40 percent of charters in California belong to a CMO.

California charter public schools are doing especially well educating historically underserved students compared to traditional public schools.

Credo factsheet element

Specifically, from 2014 to 2019, the research shows:

  • Black and Latino students gained the equivalent to 1 month + 8 days in reading; 3 weeks in math

  • Latino students gained the equivalent to 1 month + 2 weeks in reading; they gained 1 month + 3 days in math

  • Students in poverty gained the equivalent to 1 month + 2 days in reading; 3 weeks + 2 days in math

You can check out this video produced by CREDO which provides an overview of the nationwide findings:

“The flexibility afforded to charter schools in exchange for accountability is a key ingredient in their continued success,” said Elizabeth Robitaille, CCSA Chief Schools Officer. “The findings in the CREDO study drive home the message that California’s charter school community is strong and effective, and students are gaining faster on average than those in traditional public schools.”

The report also provides evidence that California’s charter school sector is helping close the opportunity gap and foster educational equity within the state’s K-12 system.

In fact, 33 CMOs met CREDO’s “gap-busting” criteria for reducing opportunity gaps and proving that success can be scaled. Those CMOs are:
  • ACE Charter Schools
  • Alliance College-Ready
  • Alpha Public Schools
  • Amethod
  • Aspire
  • Bright Star
  • Camino Nuevo
  • Citizens of the World
  • Education for Change
  • Environmental
  • Envision Schools
  • Equitas
  • Fenton Charter Public Schools
  • Green Dot
  • King-Chavez
  • KIPP Bay Area
  • KIPP SoCal
  • Leadership Public Schools
  • Magnolia
  • Nova Academy
  • Oxford Prep
  • Rocketship
  • Springs
  • St. Hope

In addition, three CMOs were recognized as “gap busters” in reading and six received the same honor in math:

  • Accelerated School
  • iLEAD
  • Para los Niños


  • Classical Academies
  • Da Vinci
  • Foundation for Hispanic Education
  • Global Education Collaborative
  • Summit
  • Synergy

Lastly, handing-down the most definitive verdict to date, CREDO’s results emphasize California’s charter schools do not “cherry pick.”

The study finds students entering charter schools are more likely to be low performing and less likely to be high performing than their peers in traditional public schools.

“We hope this settles, once and for all, the unfounded notion that charter success is a result of cherry-picking only the best students in an area,” said Myrna Castrejón, CCSA President and CEO. “California’s charter school community is now seeing the fruits of its labor to educate some of the most vulnerable and underserved students in our state. Charter students, families, and educators should feel a great sense of pride for producing such superior gains.”

>> Click here to download this factsheet which offers a breakdown of the CA-specific findings. 

>> To view the entire CREDO report, click on this link

>> Check out this video produced by CREDO which offers a quick breakdown of the nationwide report. 

This blog story was written by Ana Tintocalis, CCSA's Senior Director of Media Relations and Editorial Content. She is a frequent contributor to the CharterNation Blog. Got a good charter school story? Contact her at