Skip to main content

NEPC Review: Still a Good Investment: Charter School Productivity in Nine Cities (University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, November 2023)

This report claims that charter schools get better results on standardized tests even as they receive less in revenues, making them more cost-effective. To support this claim, the report combines its own database of school revenues with results from another think tank that compares charter school students’ academic growth with matched students in public schools. There is substantial reason to question both the fiscal and academic outcome comparisons, but the report makes an additional critical error: When transforming academic outcomes into a common scale, it conflates test scores with academic “growth,” rendering its outcome measure invalid. It then compounds this error by using a simplistic “return on investment” measure that eschews the complexity found in serious research on education cost modeling. The report, consequently, is yet another methodologically flawed document that should be ignored by policymakers and stakeholders.

Suggested Citation: Weber, M. (2023). NEPC review: Still a good investment: Charter school productivity in nine cities. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from:

Document Reviewed:

Still a Good Investment: Charter School Productivity in Nine Cities

Alison H. Johnson, Josh B. McGee, Patrick J. Wolf, Jay F. May, & Larry D. Maloney
University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform