A new report from the National Assessment Governing Board by Naomi Chudowsky and Alan Ginsburg contains some very interesting findings about charter schools based on results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Even though charter schools are at a disadvantage when you compare all charters across the nation to all traditional public schools in the country, the new report says that looking at achievement for all students across the nation:
o NAEP scores in grades 4 and 8 reading and math have increased between 2003/05 and 2011, in both regular public and charter schools, with larger gains for charter schools (emphasis added).
The report does point out that that even though the charter gains are larger across the nation, the charter score gains tend not to be statistically significant due to the smaller student samples from charter schools, which creates larger statistical sampling errors in the charter school scores. That is an unfortunate limitation in the NAEP, which is a sampled test. This technical limitation makes it harder for charters to show statistically significant progress.
Thus, the report tries to get a fairer comparison for charter schools by digging deeper, concentrating on what happens in those charters and traditional schools located in major cities. The report says:
o …the findings tend to favor charter schools when one focuses on black, Hispanic, and low-income students within the large cities. In many subject/grade combinations students in these subgroups in charter schools performed significantly better in 2011 than those in regular public schools (emphasis added). By contrast, in 2003/2005 these subgroups performed similarly in charter and regular schools, and in one case (low-income students in grade 4 math), the regular schools were ahead.
In other words, charters in large cities formerly performed about the same as traditional schools, but now charters have moved ahead for minority students. That is particularly so for black students, as the report points out in this comment:
o The performance of black low-income students attending charter schools in large cities is particularly striking (emphasis added). This group has shown a large increase in scores. In 2011 their achievement was significantly higher than that of similar students in regular large-city schools in grade 8 reading and grades 4 and 8 math.
There was additional data available for four large cities, and the report says:
o When we look more closely at a few large urban districts, the 2011 results clearly favor charter schools. In the four cities where NAEP data permitted comparisons (DC, Atlanta, Chicago and Milwaukee), students in charter schools significantly outperformed their peers in regular public schools in many of the subjects/grades analyzed (emphasis added). In those four districts, there are no subjects/grades where regular schools significantly outperformed charter schools.
There is a lot more interesting information in this report and the findings are remarkable because the NAEP has some limitations as a vehicle to examine charter schools.
Anyone interested in charter schools will find this 25-page report, which is based on fairly recent data, worth their while.