Stanford study: Renaissance, charter schools outperform Camden public schools

By Jim Walsh, July 8, 2019

CAMDEN – Students in the city’s charter and renaissance schools have outperformed pupils in traditional public schools, according to an academic study released Monday.

The study by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO, noted mixed results for student performance in school years from 2014-15 through 2016-17.

Overall, it said Camden students “posted weaker learning gains compared to the state average gains in reading” throughout the three-year period.

But it said city-wide gains in math, after lagging in the first year, “caught up” with the state average in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

The state-run school district said the report showed ‘enhanced growth and progress for Camden students.”

“This rigorous independent study demonstrates that citywide, student performance has improved since 2014,” Superintendent Katrina McCombs said in a statement.

Among its findings, the report said Camden’s charter and renaissance school students matched or exceeded state gains in reading and math during the study period.

In contrast, it said, Camden’s traditional public schools trailed the state average for reading gains in all three years. It said the traditional schools’ math gains were “on par with the state average” in 2015-16, but fell behind in the other two years.

In its statement, the district noted Camden students are learning “much more each year than they were just a few years ago.”

It said students are receiving the equivalent of roughly 85 additional days of learning in math and about 30 days in reading “relative to the state average, compared to the 2014-15 school year.”

The statement noted strong results for the renaissance schools, which are neighborhood schools managed by nonprofits.

It said the city’s three renaissance networks “also exceeded statewide growth for all subgroups studied, including black students, Hispanic students, students in poverty, special education students, English language learners, male students, and female students.”

Camden's renaissance schools, created as a result of a 2012 state law, serve about 4,400 students in three networks.

The city's charter schools also serve about 4,400 youngsters, while about 6,400 children attend traditional public schools.

According to the state Department of Education, 56.7 percent of district students fell below statewide standards for reading in the last  school year. It says 45 percent were below the math standard.

The Stanford researchers studied student performance in 11 urban districts across the country.

Other cities to be reviewed included Oakland, Saint Louis, Indianapolis and Washington, D.C.