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Charter Schools Show No Gains Over Public Schools


NAEP 2003 Pilot Study



Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released in December 2004 found that fourth-grade charter school students do no better than their public school counterparts on math and reading assessments, and in some cases score lower.

While the report is credible and the results are important in what should be the ongoing monitoring of charter school performance, they should be viewed in perspective.

As National Assessment Governing Board Chairman Darvin Winick pointed out, "one snapshot in time cannot determine the achievement of students."

It's a noteworthy observation because that's exactly what the federal so-called "No Child Left Behind" law does. Under its provisions, the results of one test — "one snapshot in time" — are used to determine if a school or a whole district is performing acceptably or is "failing."

The NAEP study, America's Charter Schools: Results From the NAEP 2003 Pilot Study , found that fourth-grade charter school students as a whole did not perform as well as public school fourth-graders in math, and performed about the same in reading. Breaking down the data to compare students of similar characteristics gives slightly different results:

  • Among students of similar racial/ethnic backgrounds, the study found no difference in math or reading performance between charter school students and students in traditional public schools.
  • Among students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, the charter school fourth-graders scored lower in reading and mathematics, on average, than the fourth-graders in regular public schools.
  • The scores of students taught by uncertified teachers in charter schools were significantly lower than those of charter school students with certified teachers, and students taught by teachers with at least five years' experience outperformed students with less experienced teachers, regardless of the type of public school attended.

NEA believes that what's really needed to improve student acheivement are programs and resources — smaller class sizes, quality pre-K and after-school programs, expanded professional development for educators, safe and modern schools — that will result in great public schools for all children.

Reference

America's Charter Schools: Results From the NAEP 2003 Pilot Study  - This study found that fourth-grade charter school students do no better than their public school counterparts on math and reading assessments, and in some cases score lower.