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New Charter Schools Report Shows Gains

Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Charter Schools Report Shows Gains

According to a July 2017 report by the Foundation for Excellence in Education (Foundation), Florida’s charter school sector is one of the largest and fastest-improving in the nation. The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) reports that there were more than 270,000 students enrolled in 652 charter schools during the 2015-16 school year. Two-thirds of Florida’s charter school students are minorities.

Using student achievement data from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the Foundation looked at “cohort gains” as its measure of achievement gain. A cohort gain is a comparison of fourth-grade reading and math scores in 2011 to eighth-grade reading and math scores in 2015. For example, subtracting fourth-grade NAEP reading scores for charter school students in 2011 from eighth-grade NAEP reading scores for charter school students in 2015 provides a numerical measure of gain for that cohort. This permits comparisons between students enrolled in charter schools and students enrolled in traditional public schools.

The Foundation looked at 51 (50 states and the District of Columbia) statewide traditional public school systems and 20 statewide charter school sectors. Among the Foundation’s findings:

  • The NAEP math cohort gain for Florida charter school students (+52 points) was the third-highest among the 71 traditional public school and charter school sectors;
  • The NAEP reading cohort gain for Florida charter school students (+47 points) was the eleventh-highest among the 71 traditional public school and charter school sectors;
  • The NAEP math cohort gain for students in traditional Florida district schools (+36 points) was the fourth-lowest among the 71 traditional public school and charter school sectors;
  • The NAEP reading cohort gain for students in traditional Florida district schools (+37 points) was the fourth-lowest among the 71 traditional public school and charter school sectors;
  • The NAEP reading cohort gain for Florida charter school students (+47 points) was 10 points higher than the NAEP reading cohort gain for Florida students in traditional public schools (+37 points);
  • The NAEP math cohort gain for Florida charter school students (+52 points) was 16 points higher than the NAEP math cohort gain for Florida students in traditional public schools (+36 points);
  • Traditional public school students in Florida exhibited the lowest NAEP math cohort gains in both math (+36 points) and reading (+37 points) among the 19 states reporting; and
  • The six highest and three lowest math cohort gains, and the three highest and three lowest reading cohort gains, were for charter school students.

The Foundation cautions readers from reading too much into the results because of the limited number of states that had the data necessary to measure cohort gains, and larger measurement errors when examining subgroup scores. Nonetheless, the Foundation’s report suggests that Florida’s charter school students are outperforming students in traditional public schools.

This is confirmed by a March 2017 FLDOE study that compared Florida charter school students and found:

  • In 65 of the 77 comparisons, students enrolled in charter schools demonstrated higher rates of grade-level performance than students enrolled in traditional public schools;
  • In 20 of the 22 comparisons, the achievement gap was lower for students enrolled in charter schools than students enrolled in traditional public schools; and
  • In 82 of the 96 comparisons, the percentage of students making learning gains was higher for students enrolled in charter schools than students enrolled in traditional public schools.
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Contact Leah Courtney by Email
or Phone: 850.212.5052