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Study Gives Michigan Charter Schools Good Marks

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) - A new study shows Michigan is among 10 states in which charter school performance has outpaced traditional public school growth in both math and reading.

The report released earlier this week by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University evaluated charter school performance in 26 states and Washington, D.C.

Michigan’s charter school students were found to gain the equivalent of an additional 43 days of learning in reading and 43 days in math.

Thirty-five percent of Michigan charter schools have significantly more positive learning gains in reading than their traditional public school counterparts, while 2 percent have significantly lower gains. Forty-two percent outperform their traditional public school peers in math while 6 percent perform worse.

This is the first time Michigan is included in the study.

In May, officials said 32 new charter schools plan to open this fall in Michigan. The charter schools offer options that include Montessori programs, a public safety academy, cyber schools and a school for special needs students.

Many of the schools will be in urban areas where charter schools are already prominent, such as Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint. Other schools are planned in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Muskegon, Waterford, Warren, Pontiac, Hazel Park, Manistee, Plymouth, Taylor, Eaton Rapids and Zeeland. Additionally, the suburbs of Beverly Hills, Center Line, Garden City, Novi and Oxford are all getting their first charter schools.

Charter schools can be authorized or “chartered” by public universities, community colleges, traditional K-12 school districts, intermediate school districts or a combination of those agencies. They are public schools, but typically are independent from the traditional school district in which they are located.

Supporters say charters offer families more academic choice and foster competition that can improve the performance of all schools. They sometimes offer classes rich with a specialty such as science, math, music or art that can attract students with those interests.

But critics say charters rob students and much-needed state aid money from traditional public school districts that already are struggling with declining enrollment. Critics also are bothered that some charters are managed by for-profit companies.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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