(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
So I’ve still been digging into the AZ NAEP data. When something seems too good to be true, it is best to assume it isn’t true. I decided to investigate the possibility that something goofy was going on with the free and reduced lunch variable. Not all Arizona charters choose not to participate in the program, and the eligibility criteria for the program has changed over time.
Parental education may be a good stand-in for what may be a suspect income variable. At the 8th grade level, the NAEP data slicer has an a variable for parental education. The below figure presents the 8th grade math scores for students with college graduate parents. In order to account for possible differences in special program participation, the figure is only for general education students with college graduate parents (the ranking results don’t change much if you look at all students). I will again stress that these comparisons do not substitute for a proper random assignment study-only that they tell us more than an examination of aggregate scores for all students.
Watch out New England…Arizona charter schools are coming to get you!
For you incurable skeptics, the below figure presents the same comparison using 8th grade reading, and bear in mind that each NAEP test involves a different sample of students.
We can also look at these numbers by race/ethnicity. NAEP provides subset numbers for Anglos and Hispanics attending charter schools in Arizona. Here is the NAEP 8th grade reading test for Hispanic students:
And here it is for Anglo students:
Okay but what if those Arizona charter schools are chock full of Anglo kids whose parents graduated college? Now the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools reports that Arizona charter schools have a majority-minority student body, so this is not the case- but what if a large portion of the Anglo kids attending charter schools have parents with college degrees? Ok, well, let’s compare Anglo kids whose parents graduated from college:
Did I mention the part where Arizona charter schools did this with $8,041 per kid in public funding? Better results at a lower cost is what America is going to need very soon- and well here it is. Massachusetts NAEP scores taste like chicken btw, only gamier, could use a little salt.