A new think tank dedicated to further improving student achievement and educational opportunity at charter schools across Arizona recently was launched by the non-profit Arizona Charter Schools Association (ACSA).

The new Arizona Center for Student Opportunity will also provide accurate information about the positive impacts charter schools are having on students, said Matthew Ladner, a leading education policy researcher who has been named to head the Center.

“In the past 25 years, Arizona’s charter schools have helped invigorate the state’s education system by improving student academics while serving as a model for other states to replicate,” Ladner said. “I look forward to working with the Arizona Charter Schools Association to help advance this work and find ways to further improve Arizona’s education system.”

Ladner brings almost as many years of education policy experience to the role. Much of his research has focused on how demographic and social shifts affect Arizona’s education system.

“Matt’s extensive knowledge of charter schools, education reform and demographics will prove to be an invaluable resource for the Arizona Charter Schools Association as we continue to work towards ensuring that every child has access to a quality school,” said Jake Logan President and CEO of the ACSA that advocates for and strengthens the autonomy, equity, and quality of Arizona’s public charter schools.

Ladner was previously senior research strategist for the Arizona Chamber Foundation, where he examined various education and economic challenges facing the state. He also served as senior advisor for policy and research at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, focusing on charter schools, school choice, race and special education. He also is currently executive editor of redefinED, a Friedman Fellow at EdChoice and a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“We’re honored to have one of the leading voices of the charter school movement joining our team. Combined with our existing world class research team, the Arizona Center for Student Opportunity will be a huge value add for public education in Arizona,” Logan said.

Arizona pioneer in school choice movement 

Arizona was a pioneer state in bringing choice to parents though the charter school movement.

Today, its 556 charter schools serve almost 200,000 students.

ACSA officials said the movement has served the state well.

For the last four years, public charter students outperformed the state average on the statewide AzMERIT assessment.

In addition, more than 2 out of 3 public charter schools in Arizona that received a letter grade from the Arizona Department of Education last year earned an “A” or “B.” The results include the academic performance of traditional, hybrid and alternative charter schools and district schools.

“These letter grades are proof that Arizona public charter schools are raising academic achievement for students from all backgrounds — particularly those from low-income and under-served communities,” CEO Logan said.

For more information about the association and charter schools in Arizona, visit www.azcharters.org.


This story was originally published at Chamber Business News.