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New NAEP shows charter schools in Atlanta make difference for black students, and it’s getting better!

Despite a lot of hand-wringing about the new, generally disappointing results in the National

Assessment of Educational Progress’ (NAEP) reading and math results for 2019, there is a real bright

spot regarding Atlanta’s charter schools.

Without question, black students who attend Atlanta’s charter schools do notably better than black

students who attend that city’s traditional schools. And, bucking national trends, the charter school

black scores are generally getting even better.

Figure 1, assembled using the NAEP Data Explorer, summarizes the NAEP data for Atlanta from two

years ago in 2017. As you can see, blacks in Atlanta’s charter schools outperformed by a statistically

significant amount in every area.

Now, take a look at Figure 2, which shows the new 2019 results for blacks in Atlanta’s charter schools

and traditional schools. This figure also shows the black student scores from the Jefferson County

Public Schools (JSPS) in Kentucky.

First, note that scores for blacks in Atlanta’s charters went up in three out of four areas, Grade 4

Math, Grade 4 Reading, and Grade 8 Reading. The charter school blacks held steady in Grade 8 Math.

Now, note that blacks in the city’s traditional schools not only scored a lot lower than the charter

school blacks, but scores went up slightly in only two areas, Grade 4 Math and Grade 8 Math. The

score was unchanged for Grade 8 reading and actually went down a bit for Grade 4 reading.

All of those score changes were small, probably below the level of statistical significance, however.

But, the difference in the scores for each grade/subject area between the charter blacks and the

traditional school blacks are all statistically significant, and actually are so large that I think education

experts would just flat say they are indeed significant.

Figure 2 also shows the 2019 scores for Jefferson County’s blacks. The JCPS scores are not much

different from the non-charter black scores in Atlanta, but JCPS blacks clearly lag Atlanta’s charter

school blacks by a whole lot.

Imagine if we could import Atlanta-like charter schools to Louisville!

Actually, if our legislators get off the dime, or more correctly come up with some dimes, Kentucky

could do just that. Kentucky’s new charter school laws draw extensively from the laws in Georgia

that helped lead to the phenomenal performances shown in Figures 1 and 2. If the Bluegrass State

would just fund charter schools so some could open here, maybe we could start to see the sorts of

things that Atlanta is seeing. And, based on the comparison of scores for Atlanta’s non-charter blacks

to those for JCPS, we at the very least probably wouldn’t hurt the traditional system, either.

Common, legislators. Let’s not let Georgia run away with this. It’s time for Kentucky to get into play

with better school options for black kids, too.

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