Adding up the Spending: Fiscal Disparities and Philanthropy among New York City Charter SchoolsReportar como inadecuado

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National Education Policy Center

In prominent Hollywood movies and even in some research studies, New York City (NYC) charter schools have been held up as unusually successful. This research brief presents a new study that analyzes the resources available to those charter schools, and it also looks at their performance on state standardized tests. The study reaches some surprising conclusions: (1) Spending by NYC charter schools varies widely, and these differences in spending per pupil appear to be driven primarily by differences in access to private donors; (2) Outcomes also vary widely. However, there is little or no relationship between spending and test score outcomes after including appropriate controls; (3) NYC charter schools serve, on average, far fewer students who are classified as English Learners or who are very poor. Both groups of students require more resources to teach than do other students, meaning that charters with lower enrollments of these more resource-intensive students can devote their funding to other purposes; (4) In fact, based on the differences in student needs, NYC charter schools should receive approximately $2,500 less in per-pupil support than the average funding received by same-grade-level traditional public schools; (5) About half of the NYC's charters are given a public facility by the city Board of Education (BOE). This places half of the City's charters in a much better financial situation than the other half; and (6) After controlling for the populations served, the study finds that charter schools not housed in BOE facilities receive $517 less in public funding than do non-charters. This finding is worth repeating: Even before private donations are counted, the one-half of NYC charters with BOE facilities have substantially more money available compared with NYC's traditional public schools. Once the philanthropic dollars are added, one would expect these charters schools to be noticeably outperforming other publics, but they are not. The findings with regard to New York City Charter Schools may or may not be transferable to other settings across the country. But, many other cities--including Philadelphia, Houston and San Francisco--are struggling with similar issues and adopting comparable policies for mediating within-district funding equities, while simultaneously the number of charter schools is increasing. Leaders in these cities would do well to consider carefully the information and questions raised in this new study. Appendices include: (1) Data Sources; (2) Free Lunch vs. Free or Reduced-Price Lunch; (3) Technical Notes on Regression Analyses; (4) School Site Budgets; (5) Variations in Employee Compensation; (6) Are Differences in Resources Related to Teacher Characteristics or Class Size?; and (7) Key to Charter Abbreviations. (Contains 10 tables, 17 figures and 76 notes.)

Descriptors: Student Needs, Charter Schools, Class Size, Teacher Characteristics, Standardized Tests, Second Language Learning, Scores, Private Financial Support, School Location, Limited English Speaking, Budgets, Educational Equity (Finance), Resource Allocation, Expenditure per Student, Donors, Correlation, Low Income Groups, Enrollment, Public Schools, Educational Facilities, Educational Finance, Financial Support, Regression (Statistics), Compensation (Remuneration)

National Education Policy Center. School of Education 249 UCB University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309. Tel: 303-735-5290; e-mail: nepc[at]; Web site:

Autor: Baker, Bruce D.; Ferris, Richard


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