New results from NAEP –the Nation’s Report Card – were released yesterday, and for students overall the news was less than stunning. In 3 of the 4 assessments – 4th and 8th grade mathematics and 8th grade reading – students did worse in 2015 than they did in 2013, the last time the test was given. In 4th grade reading, students did no better or worse than the last time.
Some charter public schools, however, bucked the trend.
Through the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), NAEP is administered in 21 urban school districts, where some of our most pressing educational needs exist. In five of these districts, we can directly compare results from charter schools to results from non-charter schools. And the results show that in some of those cities, students who attend charter public schools are outperforming those who don’t.
Some of the biggest difference were in Los Angeles, where charter school students scored higher than the district’s non-charter school students, higher than all students in California, and higher than the national averages of all students in all four tested areas (4th and 8th grade reading and math).
This was the first year that Los Angeles participated in TUDA at the 4th grade level. More than half (51 percent in reading and 54 percent in math) of LA charter school fourth-graders scored Proficient or higher in reading, compared to 17 percent of non-charter school students in each subject. For perspective, 36 percent of all US students were Proficient or higher in reading in 2015 and 40 percent were in math.
The results in 8th grade were similar. The percentage of LA charter school students Proficient or above in math was triple that of non-charter school students (45 percent vs. 13 percent) and exceeded the national average (33 percent). In reading, 47 percent of LA charter school students scored Proficient or above, compared to 17 percent of non-charter school students and 34 percent of students nationwide.
And while the overall drop in scores is being attributed to changing demographics, nearly 75 percent of LA charter school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch and 85 percent are Black or Hispanic. Los Angeles charter public schools – like so many charter schools across the nation – are delivering outstanding results for students who have been poorly served for too many years.
An effort is underway to greatly expand charter school capacity in Los Angeles so that up to 50 percent of public school students have the opportunity to attend a charter public school. As these results show, parents and city leaders have good reason to support charter school expansion in LA.