Growth of Student Achievement in Public and Charter Schools

This six-year research project examines the effectiveness of regular public and charter schools. The study will compare growth in student achievement in regular public schools and charter schools that are implementing the Core Knowledge (CK) elementary school curriculum.  Direct measures of student achievement collected at 1st grade and 3rd grade include reading, language comprehension, oral vocabulary; plus test scores in math, social studies, science, and writing. The study includes multi-method assessments of fidelity to the CK curriculum and will also compare the costs and cost-effectiveness of regular public and CK charter schools. This study will provide a more complete understanding of how schools implementing CK differ from regular public schools, and will inform whether and why CK charter schools impact or fail to impact student achievement.

Project Status:  2009 - 2015

Funding Source: U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences

Principal Investigator: David Grissmer

Partners: Colorado State Department of Education, Colorado League of Charter Schools

Associated Lab: Foundations of Cognition and Learning (FOCAL)


  • White, T. G., Grissmer, D. W., Altenhofen, S., & Larson, J. (2013, September). Lessons Learned in Conducting a Lottery-Based Study of Core Knowledge Charter Schools. Poster presented at the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE) conference, Washington, DC, USA.

  • Altenhofen, S., Berends, M., & White, T. G. (in preparation). Parents Who Apply to Charter Schools: Pre-Lottery Influences on School Choice. 

  • Murrah, W. M., Grissmer, D. W., Ko, H., Player, D., & Cabell, S. (in preparation). Early Achievement Impacts of Core Knowledge Charter Schools on Early Comprehension and General Knowledge through 1st grade.

  • O’Brien, R., Player, D., & Grissmer, D. W. (in preparation). Seeking Valid Cost Effectiveness Comparisons Between Core Knowledge Charter and Public Schools: Can Substantial Methodological and Data Access Issues be Addressed?