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Educators nationwide are reviewing data to identify needs, concerns, and best practices. One common topic of interest is the performance of charter school students. Research has shown that charter schools learned the equivalent of 64 more days of instruction in reading and 116 days in math, yet new research on pre-pandemic academic achievement in Indianapolis is delivering a mixed bag of results.

  • K-12 schools in Indianapolis posted weaker learning gains in both reading and math than students statewide, while students who attended charter or charter-like “Innovation Network Schools” posted better results across virtually every demographic. 
  • It found that in the 2018-2019 school year, charter school students learned the equivalent of 64 more days of instruction in reading and 116 days in math, compared to their district school peers.

Results for students of color

  • Black charter school students had even bigger gains, with 86 more days in reading and 144 days in math relative to Black students in district schools. 
  • Black charter school students saw stronger growth than district students in both reading and math, and Hispanic students in charter schools and Innovation Network Schools showed similar gains.
  • So did low-income students at charter schools. Similarly, English Language Learners in city charter and Innovation Network Schools saw better gains than district students.


  • Diving into data about academic performance at all schools helps educators build on what works, and fix where we aren’t delivering for students.
  • When researchers compared student performance citywide for the current study, they found that students at charters and Innovation Network Schools outperformed district peers across subgroups.
  • The sector’s performance is a direct result of schools that are created and sustained relative to what our community wants and needs. That is pretty unique, when you look across much of the work that’s happening nationally.
  • Local officials look favorably upon charters; school district and charters work very closely together, talking best practices, data, and what they are you doing to move the data or move the needle.
  • Being part of a local network has advantages and locally homegrown networks allow teachers and administrators to focus on exactly what we need in our community.


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