A new report from Corey A. DeAngelis, Patrick J. Wolf, Larry D. Maloney and Jay F. May, “Charter School Funding: Inequity Surges in the Cities,” sheds some additional light on the notable difference the City of Atlanta’s charter schools are making for black students.
To begin, some of you will recall the table below for Atlanta’s results from the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which I blogged about on October 31, 2019.
This shows the NAEP Scale Score results from the 2019 assessments in Grade 4 and Grade 8 math and reading. I also include the scores for the Jefferson County Public School District in Kentucky (JCPS) for comparison.
The third column, titled “ATL Difference” shows the difference between the black charter school NAEP results and the Atlanta non-charter black students’ scores. These are all not just statistically significant differences, but they are actually just plain SIGNIFICANT differences once you consider that some experts say a rough rule of thumb is that a 10-point NAEP score difference equates to about an extra year of learning.
Also, note that the JCPS black student scores are pretty similar to those for the non-charter black students in Atlanta. Clearly, Atlanta’s charter school black students score notably better than the black students in Kentucky’s largest school district.
Now, here is what the new report adds to this discussion. Table 1 in that new report shows the following funding data for schools in Atlanta:
Atlanta Funding for Traditional District Schools Versus Charter Schools
District Per Student Revenue – $20,861
Charter Per Student Revenue – $10,020
Wow! Atlanta’s charter schools are getting tremendous “Bang for the Buck” with less than half – HALF – the funding the city’s traditional district schools are getting.
By the way, Table 2 in the new report surprisingly does indicate that poverty rates for Atlanta’s charter students (based on eligibility for school lunch) are quite a bit lower than for the traditional district schools in that city. However, the poverty rate in Atlanta’s charters, 66%, is virtually identical to the 2019 poverty rate in the JCPS system, which was 65.1% (see the 2019 School Report Card home page for JCPS).
By the way, the average revenue for Jefferson County Public Schools in 2018-19 was $16,856 per pupil. That’s also MUCH higher than the new report’s figure for Atlanta’s public charter schools.
So, Atlanta’s charter schools are doing much better for black students, for notably lower costs, than JCPS.
If Kentucky’s legislature would simply fund charter schools, we might start getting results for our black students equal to those Atlanta is getting. That would really help to reduce the chronic achievement gaps we have seen for minority students in Jefferson County for decade after decade.
And, based on what the new report shows, the improvement might even come with some cost savings, too.