There are a lot of challenges with using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to evaluate charter school performance in large US cities. While about 20 major urban districts now participate in the NAEP, the student sample sizes are often too small for racial minority charter school populations to get a score report. Even when there are enough minority students present in the NAEP’s charter school samples, the plus or minus errors in the scores are often so large that it takes a really big score difference to reach the threshold of statistical significance in the scores.
Another issue, which we have discussed in this blog before, is that charter schools don’t really start to show their superior performance until students have spent several years in them. Unfortunately, the NAEP lumps all charter students together regardless of time spent in the charter. That means the NAEP will under-report true charter school advantages.
Despite these issues, the 2015 NAEP includes several cities where we can look at how charters perform for various racial minority groups. The four tables below tell that story.
Atlanta is the first example, one we showed you before.
Except for the case of fourth grade math, where a sample problem in the NAEP precludes doing a statistical significance test, all the score differences shown in Table 1 are statistically significant, and they favor charter schools in every case. In fact, most people who know about the NAEP’s Scale Scores would argue the differences in favor of charter schools for Grade 4 reading and both reading and math in Grade 8 are quite pronounced.
Chicago is our second example. All the score differences here also favor charter school black students, but in two cases the score differences are not large enough to be statistically significant. Still, for both Grade 4 reading and Grade 8 math, the charter school difference is real and statistically significant.
The charter school advantage for black students in Washington, DC’s charter schools is also notable for all subjects and grades shown except for Grade 4 reading, where the two-point charter advantage is below the level of statistical significance.
Not surprisingly, the Miami-Dade County school system in Florida has enough Hispanic students for NAEP to report scores. In three of the four cases shown, the NAEP Data Explorer indicates the score differences for Hispanics in the school system’s charters are statistically significant compared to the district’s Hispanics in non-charters. For Grade 8 reading, the difference is on the cusp, but just below the level where the NAEP Data Explorer would show a statistically significant score difference favoring charter schools.
Summing up, even after we consider the NAEP sampling errors and recognize that the NAEP includes many first-year charter students who have not been in their school of choice long enough to be able to really benefit, the results above still show that charter schools now are demonstrating clear advantages for children of color in a number of major cities around the nation.
This provides more evidence that claims from the union and some other adults in our school system that charters are not performing well are increasingly being proved wrong as better data becomes available. The facts are that even the NAEP, which isn’t a really great tool for charter school evaluation, now is showing increasing advantages for students of color in major city charters.
Clearly, it is time for Kentucky’s legislators to quit pandering to self-serving adult interests in our school system that keep putting up roadblocks against Kentucky’s minority kids being able to enjoy the educational advantages that children of color now enjoy in places like Atlanta, Chicago, DC and Miami.
It’s time for Kentucky’s legislators to step up to the plate for the children of the commonwealth. Further delay simply is no longer acceptable.
All NAEP data was retrieved from the Main NAEP Data Explorer web tool.