(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Arizona did well in the 2015 NAEP- up in three of the four tests and notched our first ever above the national average score in any of the four exams. This is all good news, and the gains look more impressive if you compare them to when the economy hummed and spending per pupil was relatively high (2007) to when not so much yet (2015). Sweet are the uses of adversity if surely very difficult for educators and administrators.
I ran numbers for charter vs. non-charter and tried to get closer to apples to apples by examining the scores of general ed students who qualify for a free or reduced lunch. If your story is that the charter schools have a nefarious plot to siphon off all the rich kids from North Scottsdale (good luck btw) these are not those kids.
Some of the really big gains on the charter side here may be explained by an unusual bad showing for charter schools in 2013-and that could relate to the vagaries of NAEP sampling. Nevertheless they are way up from the good ole days of property bubble prosperity as well as from 2013 among both districts and charters- and the most important gains are the blue ones since they still educate 83% of the kids.
So that’s what you get for you “wild west” charter sector that routinely derided by overly cautious types who have no experience with coping with rapid enrollment growth- rocking academic gains for disadvantaged kids! Arizona still has far to go but…