Giving Compass' Take:

• Recent studies from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicate that Boston charter schools were able to expand and replicate their model at other schools without sacrificing quality in education.

• How can donors help with successful charter school expansion plans in their local school districts? 

• Read about the discipline policies at Boston charter schools. 

How do you bring success to scale?

It’s a question that has tormented education experts — and, really, anyone designing public policy — for years. Smart, successful investments in teacher coaching, whole-school reforms and new curricula have attracted rapturous headlines and public interest, then faltered after being brought to more classrooms. When education reforms are implemented in new contexts, by teachers and school leaders who played no role in creating them, their effects fade all too often.

But new research offers evidence that ambitious new policies can remain effective while applied at scale. The working paper, released earlier this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, finds that charter schools in Boston kept hitting high marks even after replicating their model several times over. The city’s charter sector, ranked among the best for systems across the country, saw no decline in its results.

First circulated by MIT’s School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative, the study examined a period of rapid charter expansion in Boston between 2010 and 2015, when the sector roughly doubled in size. Co-author Christopher Walters, an economics professor at University of California, Berkeley, said he wouldn’t have predicted that the expansion would be so successful.

Between 2010 and 2015, the percentage of Boston kindergartners enrolled in a charter school rose to 9 percent from 5 percent; sixth-graders enrolled in a Boston charter more than doubled in proportion — growing to 31 percent from 15 percent; and ninth-graders enrolled in a charter climbed to 15 percent from a previous 9 percent.

More importantly, academic data show that those students performed better than they would have elsewhere. The authors found that the charter schools selected for expansion produced larger learning gains over those five years than other charter schools.  And the proven providers saw no decline in quality, even as they directed existing staff and resources toward expanding operations.

Read the full article about expanding charter schools in Boston by Kevin Mahnken at The 74.