The 2016 AZ Merit: Improving but Meh versus Mehssachusetts

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Arizona Department of Education released 2016 AZMerit data last week, and charter school students show an across the board advantage.


Breaking down the data by subgroups consistently show charter advantages as well. Let’s start with Anglos:


Move on to Hispanic students:


African-American students:



Native American students:


Asian students:


Special education students (btw the percentages of special education students among district and charter schools were roughly equivalent among tested students):


Economically disadvantaged students, but with an *.  A high percentage of Arizona charter schools do not participate in the federal free and reduced lunch program, and about 85% of alternative (dropout recovery) schools in Arizona are charter schools. Having said that, charter schools score higher again:


This next chart required me to dust off my algebra skills and use the existing data to solve for X:


What we can take from this: while differences in student populations explains some of the differences between overall charter and district scores, when the charters lead in each and every subgroup it does not explain anything close to all of the difference. Every difference across every subgroup counts, and in the end the add up to:


For those of you squinting at your Ipad, that is the statewide averages for Massachusetts (the highest scoring state) on the left, Arizona charters in the middle, and Arizona Districts.  MA of course is much wealthier and spends a great deal more than AZ, but when you break down the subgroups Arizona charter students outscore like students from Massachusetts, which makes me want to CeleNAEP good times here in the cactus patch:

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