I wrote yesterday about the superior performance of black students in Atlanta’s charter schools on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), but that wasn’t a total surprise because Atlanta’s charters had done well on the 2015 NAEP, too.
But, this year there is a new charter school performance story, and it comes from a state that has gotten a lot of bad publicity for problems with its charter school program. Well, it looks like Ohio, at least the Cleveland area, is getting its charters under control, and the 2017 NAEP results confirm that.
This table, generated from data in the NAEP Data Explorer, shows the remarkable story about how blacks in Cleveland’s charter schools outperformed their racial counterparts in Cleveland’s traditional schools in all four areas NAEP looked at: Grade 4 and Grade 8 math and reading.
In each case, blacks in Cleveland’s charter schools outperformed by a statistically significant amount, something very hard for charter schools to do for several reasons.
First, NAEP has a lot of statistical sampling error in scores for smaller student groups like the blacks in charters, which means it takes a really big score difference to be statistically significant.
Second, as research from the CREDO group has shown again and again students don’t instantly turn into scholars when they enter charter schools. It can take several years for the full benefits of charters to show. But, the NAEP doesn’t filter charter school performance by years spent in the charter system. Instead, NAEP lumps all the charter kids together, including those who have not been in charters long enough to fully benefit. So, NAEP scores for charter schools always understate the real capabilities of these schools of choice.
Never the less, despite these challenges, Cleveland’s charter schools turned in some dramatic performances in 2017.
One more point: since Grade 8 math is Kentucky’s weakest NAEP area, I compared the charter school results for this subject and grade in the Cleveland to the NAEP scale score for Jefferson County’s black students. It turns out Jefferson County blacks scored a 253 on NAEP, exactly the same as Cleveland’s non-charter black students achieved. But, blacks in Cleveland’s charters obviously bested Jefferson County’s black performance by the same 16 points you see in the table.
In terms of NAEP proficiency rates, Cleveland’s charter school blacks scored 17 percent proficient to Jefferson County blacks scoring only 9 percent proficient. In other words, blacks in Cleveland’s charters did nearly twice as well as those in Kentucky’s largest school system.
This isn’t to say that Cleveland charter performance is nearly as good as we need, but the charters are definitely heading in the right direction.
Doesn’t the Bluegrass State need some performance boosts like that?