Stanford study: Students in NHA charter schools gain several months of additional learning every year

Students enrolled in a charter school managed by National Heritage Academies (NHA) – Michigan’s largest charter school operator – gain an additional 80 days of learning in math and 63 days in reading every year, compared to their traditional public school counterparts.

That’s the result of a new study by Stanford University’s highly respected CREDO Institute, which looked at the effect of various management companies on charter school performance. You’ll find the complete report here.

NHA is a for-profit educational-services provider based in Grand Rapids that manages 48 of Michigan’s 300 charter schools. NHA is also affiliated with a for-profit company, PrepNet, that manages five charter high schools in Michigan, including the two best high schools in the state (according to U.S. News & World Report) – No. 1 Wellspring Preparatory High School in Grand Rapids and No. 2 Arbor Preparatory High School in Ypsilanti.

“These results are significant and they’re extraordinary,” said Dan Quisenberry, President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), the state charter school association. “Students who attend a charter school managed by NHA are gaining several months of learning every year. That’s phenomenal. We’ve always known that NHA is doing an exceptional job of raising student achievement, but this quantifies it. We’re so fortunate to have NHA-managed charter schools in Michigan. Students are learning significantly more at an NHA school than they would at a traditional public school.”

There are NHA-managed schools throughout the state, particularly in the state’s urban centers and most educationally challenging areas.

NHA has some of the state’s most acclaimed educators on staff. This year’s 2017 Michigan Charter School Administrator of the Year, Chanavia Patterson, is the principal of Detroit Enterprise Academy. That’s a school located on the east side in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Detroit, but under Chanavia’s leadership, the school now ranks in the 51st percentile on the state’s most recent top-to-bottom list – far above most every other school in Detroit.

Also, an NHA teacher was one of the five finalists for the 2017 Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year award – Lindsay Andrade of Achieve Charter Academy in Canton, a high-achieving school that ranks in the 99th percentile on the top-to-bottom list.

There are some famous NHA alumni, as well, including Olympic gold medal swimmer Allison Schmitt, who was part of the first class at Canton Charter Academy when it opened.

CREDO, considered the gold standard of charter school research, uses a detailed methodology that compares a charter school student with a “virtual twin” at a traditional public school to see which student learns more over the course of a year.

In addition to NHA’s impressive results, the 2017 CREDO study also showed that several other charter school operators in Michigan are achieving superior results. Among them:

  • The Romine Group, a for-profit company that manages eight charter schools in Michigan: An additional 51 days of learning in math and 57 days in reading
  • Hamadeh Educational Services, a for-profit company that manages four charter schools in Michigan: An additional 40 days of learning in math and 85 days in reading.
  • Hanley Harper Group, a for-profit company that manages three charter schools in Michigan: An additional 34 days of learning in math and 74 days in reading.

Overall, the CREDO report showed that charter schools nationally continue to perform better than traditional public schools, particularly among minority students and students in poverty. The report concluded: “Overall, charter schools are having a positive academic impact. In every sector of charter schools, a higher percentage of charter schools have better growth compared to their VCRs (virtual twin in a traditional public school) than have worse growth compared to their VCRs. This holds true in both math and reading.”

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