Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Walter L. Burt

Second Advisor

Dr. Gary Miron

Third Advisor

Dr. Dennis McCrumb


Charter schools, urban school districts, achievement, attendance, Midwestern school districts


The purpose of this study was to determine whether students attending urban charter schools did better, or worse, than students attending traditional public schools, over a five-year time period, in a Midwestern state. Thirty-one urban school districts affiliated with a Midwestern Urban Education Association, and corresponding charter schools, located within these Midwestern school districts, were selected to participate in this study.

This study utilized a quasi-experimental research design and was supported by the earlier research of Dr. Gary Miron and Dr. Jerry Horn from Western Michigan University (Miron & Horn, 2000; Miron & Horn, 2002; Miron, 2005) and Dr. Scott Imberman from the University of Houston (Imberman, 2007; Imberman, 2011).

To conduct this study, data were collected from 145,183 students that attended 772 buildings in 31 school districts that served K-8 students in traditional Midwestern public schools, along with data from 46,480 students attending corresponding 88 charter schools located within these small urban school districts. This Midwestern state’s department of education provided data for students in grades 3 – 8 that attended traditional school districts, and corresponding charter schools, during the 2008 to 2012 school years.

Four research hypotheses were tested based upon the identified purposes of study. A t-test was used to determine whether statistically significant differences existed between the two comparison cohorts. In addition, an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), was used to determine whether ethnicity, gender, and SES influenced the differences between the performances of students in the two comparison cohorts.

Findings in this study indicated that students having transferred to charter schools from the identified contiguous traditional small urban school districts performed significantly less in mathematics and reading, coupled with having lower attendance rates, over a period of three consecutive years. In the fourth year, however, charter school students out performed, and had greater attendance rates, than students attending the identified traditional small urban district schools. Additionally, this study also found that ethnicity and poverty level influenced student performance when students transferred to a charter school. Gender, on the other hand, had little or no influence on student performance after having transferred to a charter school. However, a word of caution should accompany these conclusions. There may be other factors that could contribute to these findings (e g., reduction in school buildings’ population sizes, or “pyramidal” effects, and student persistence).

The study concluded by providing four recommendations to guide future research studies.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access