WILL Press Release | WILL Charter School Study Published in Academic Journal

February 20, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – The Journal of School Choice, an academic journal dedicated to empirical research on school choice, published a recent Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty study by Will Flanders, PhD, on student outcomes per taxpayer dollars spent at public schools in Milwaukee, including charters.  You can read the study here.

This first-of-its-kind study found that public charter schools in Milwaukee with more independence from Milwaukee Public Schools (i.e. non-instrumentality and independent charters) were the most efficient with taxpayer money, achieving higher test scores with less funding compared to traditional MPS schools and instrumentality charters.  The analysis takes into account students’ socio-economic status and demographics.

Publication in an academic journal means the research and methodology has been peer-reviewed by neutral academics and found to be important in the advance of research in the field. In this case, the Journal of School Choice publishes the “best scholarship on school choice and school reform from diverse disciplines and methodologies.”

Key Findings and Takeaways:

  • Taxpayers receive a better return on investment with independent charters and non-instrumentality schools. Policymakers should consider ways to increase the number of these schools and resources spent at these schools.  $1000 spent in an independent or non-instrumentality charter yields about 2.5% higher scores on the WKCE Science Portion than in a traditional public school.  $1000 spent in an independent charter yields 2.75% higher scores on the Badger Exam math portion than in a traditional public school.
  • There is no difference in outcomes between instrumentality charters and MPS in terms of efficiency. Instrumentality charter schools are “charters in name only,” and should be reclassified by the state to clarify that these schools do not live up to the image of what a charter school should be.

Dr. Flanders explains why the publication of this article is important:  “The publication of this article in a peer-reviewed journal reinforces the high standards to which we hold our research at WILL.  This study provides definitive evidence that there are important differences between charter schools and charter school authorizers in terms of performance and efficiency.”



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