Giving Compass' Take:

• Brendan Lowe reports that a study found that students who attended charter high schools in North Carolina had better outcomes than their peers. 

• How are charter schools producing better results? Is this a scaleable way to improve education? 

• Learn about the accountability challenges of running charter schools


Researchers attempting to gauge the success of charter schools tend to focus on hard academic metrics: proficiency in fourth-grade reading, for example, or test scores in eighth-grade math, and achievement gaps between white and minority students.

But a recent study attempts to broaden that conversation, tracing charter schools’ effects beyond the classroom to issues such as voting and criminal behavior.

The study, released in June, found that eighth-grade students in traditional public schools in North Carolina who transitioned to a charter high school had more positive behavioral outcomes than their peers who went on to a district high school.

The students who transitioned to a charter high school from a traditional public school were less likely to be chronically absent or suspended during their freshman year. In high school and beyond, these students were also less likely to be convicted of a crime, and once they reached voting age, they registered to vote and voted in local, state and federal elections at higher rates.

The findings are part of a working paper published by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University by four researchers — two from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and two from the RAND Corporation. While the paper is still being peer-reviewed and is thus subject to change, the researchers predicted that any modifications would likely be minor. Co-author Doug Lauen of the University of North Carolina called the results “preliminary and potentially tantalizing.”

“If we have an effective education system, whether it’s in the traditional public school sector or the charter school sector, we want to know if it’s lowered kids’ chances of being convicted of a crime,” he said. “We also want kids to vote. These are important civic outcomes.”

Read the full article about charter school students by Brendan Lowe at The 74.