Thanks to some interesting work by a think tank in Arizona, I got a heads up that their state also shows charter schools doing better on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress. It turns out that scores were reported both for the entire group of students enrolled in charters and non-charters but also for Hispanic students. Figure 1, assembled with the NAEP Data Explorer, shows how this turns out.
First, the “All Student” scores for both types of schools are shown in woodgrain bars. The NAEP Scale Scores for the charter school students are in the light brown wood grain and the results for all the non-charter students are in the very dark brown wood grain.
For example, looking at the first set of bars for Grade 8 NAEP Math, the students in charter schools scored 304 while the students who were not in charter schools only scored 279. This difference is statistically significant.
Now, look at the two untextured bars in that set, colored bright red for the Hispanics in charter schools and in soft green for the Hispanics not in charter schools. The charter school Hispanics scored 287 and the Hispanics not in charters only scored 267. That was also a statistically significant difference.
The first set of bars shows us something even more remarkable. The Hispanics in Arizona’s charter schools actually outscored the “All Student” average score for the students who are not in charters. The All Student average would include white students, too, so this result is rather remarkable (unfortunately, the NAEP didn’t report separate scores for whites in either charters or non-charters, so I can’t explore this more deeply).
Looking at Grade 8 NAEP Reading shows the same patterns and the differences for the charters and non-charters for both the All Student results and the Hispanics are again statistically significant.
The fourth grade results are not so dramatic, and the differences are not actually statistically significant, either. However, the pattern of charters outscoring non-charters is present in the published scores, and since none of these results show a flip-flop where non-charters outscore charters, it is likely that a small positive benefit for charters is present in the fourth grade, as well.
Even though issues of sample size and the inability to track student progress over time in charters makes it harder for charters to show an advantage on the NAEP, Arizona shows again that charters are pulling ahead and they can do that for minority kids in particular.