Yesterday we looked at some National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Grade 4 mathematics data for students eligible for the federal school lunch program (a poverty measure) for charter schools versus non-charter schools. The data was broken down by race and was obtained from the NAEP Data Explorer.
Now, let’s see how eighth grade students in poverty in charter schools and non-charters compare. Data for this grade is only available from 2005 on. Here is the white data.
Poor whites in charter schools scored notably below their counterparts in the 2005 NAEP by 8 NAEP Scale Score points. By 2011, things had reversed and poor whites in charter schools scored 4 points above their counterparts in traditional classrooms across the country.
It should be noted that there has been some year to year up and down in the scale score differences. This is probably due to the large sampling error in the NAEP charter school samples. However, a linear regression analysis of the trend over time confirms a positive trend that definitely favors charter school students.
This next table shows the blacks data.
This trend is even more pronounced, with poor blacks in charter schools moving from 8 points behind their traditional public school peers to scoring 6 points ahead of them. Unlike the situation with white students, the improvement was consistently positive.
Finally, here is the Hispanic table.
In this case, the notable lead Hispanics have held in charter schools has been cut by Hispanics in traditional schools, but even today poor Hispanics in charter schools outscore their traditional school peers by 9 points.
I want to reiterate some caveats I mentioned in Part 1 of this series. First, the National Center for Education Statistics has not seen fit to provide any information about exclusion of students with learning disabilities and English language learners broken down by charter and non-charter categories for NAEP assessments. If exclusion rates differ, that could bias the results shown in these tables.
Also, it is reported that a number of charter schools simply do not offer the federal school lunches, so even students in poverty in those schools will be carried as non-poverty students. That also might impact the data in the tables.
Still, even with these caveats, it seems likely that as of 2011 charter schools across the nation are really starting to perform notably better for students in poverty than do traditional public schools.
And, so far, Kentucky’s kids are missing out completely on this trend that helps boost overall public school performance in other states that now have charter schools.
Perhaps that helps explain why when we look at all white students in every state who are in the school lunch program, Kentucky only statistically significantly outscored poor whites in just two other states (Alabama and West Virginia) in the 2011 NAEP Grade 8 Mathematics Assessment – just 2 states!
Maybe if Kentucky had charter schools, the map above (also assembled with the NAEP Data Explorer) would look different.
By the way, I don’t plan to look at NAEP reading due to higher differences in exclusion rates across the states. In fact, Kentucky led the nation in both fourth and eighth grade NAEP reading in 2011 for its very high rate of exclusion of students with learning disabilities. In consequence, even the Kentucky Department of Education is now reporting that our NAEP reading scores are not comparable to those in other states.