Protecting and Promoting School Choice

EFI Publications

Weathering the Storm: COVID-era policies in charter schools

by Ian Kingsbury, PhD




The COVID-19 pandemic imposed unprecedented disruptions on American education. Scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam reveal that these disruptions were associated with profound learning loss. The stakes attached to learning loss are especially high for charter schools, whose survival and potential expansion or replication is heavily tied to test score performance. 

Using nationwide school-level proficiency data, this study examines achievement patterns in the charter sector between 2018-19 and 2020-21. Overall, it emerges that school proficiency rates in 2018-19 remained strongly predictive of proficiency rates in 2020-21. Still, certain notable patterns emerge from the data. 

The composition of economically disadvantaged or Black or Hispanic students was independently predictive of steeper learning loss. Moreover, charters affiliated with education management organizations experienced less learning loss than would be expected given their demographic profile.