That’s the title given to Noble Schools and other high-performing charter schools across the nation by a recent 2023 study from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). But what does it mean? Here’s what the study report says:
“Perhaps the most revealing finding of our study is that more than 1,000 schools have eliminated learning disparities for their students and moved their achievement ahead of their respective state’s average performance. We refer to these schools as “gap-busting” charter schools. They provide strong empirical proof that high-quality, high-equality education is possible anywhere.”
This week, Noble Schools’ CEO Constance Jones joined the study’s main researcher, Macke Raymond, and LEARN Charter School Network’s CEO, Greg White, at a City Club of Chicago forum to discuss these results and what it means to do this work.
“When I saw this study, there was an element of inspiration but also just a moment of pause for me because I know the hard work it has taken our students, our families, our teachers, and our staff members—so many folks—in order to accomplish those types of results,” Jones said, “There is no secret sauce, but it is certainly the people who we work with every single day.”
Jones (second from left) with her fellow panelists and City Club staff members after the panel discussion.
The study, overall, found that public charter schools nationally have not only improved significantly since 2009, but that their students had stronger growth in math and reading than traditional public school students from 2015 to 2019.
On average, charter students gain an extra 16 days of learning in reading and six extra days in math per year. This “extra days of learning” metric provides a concrete way to understand the academic gains observed in charter schools.
Think of it like this: imagine the typical school year has 180 days of instruction. Charter school students, while having the same amount of actual instructional days as other students, made so much more progress in their learning that it is as though they learned for 196 days in reading and 186 days in math.
The study also controlled for demographics and academic achievement prior to enrolling in a charter school—disproving the common claim that charter schools “cherry pick” the more academically advantaged students. In fact, according to the study, charter schools serve a higher proportion of disadvantaged students.
Noble Schools was specifically cited in the study as a “gap-busting” school because of our high achievements in reading and math. At Noble, students have received the equivalent of 168 additional instruction days in math (nearly an entire school year’s worth) and 86 additional days of instruction in reading (almost an entire semester) when compared to traditional Illinois public schools.