NAEP Cohort Gains in Scale Points

November 6, 2017

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Quick post just to note that the outlines of the story remains broadly similar whether you measure cohort NAEP gains as percentage increases or simply as scale points gained: AZ statewide still leads the field, AZ charters still beats the field like what Clubber Lang did to Rocky in their first encounter in the ring, Michigan charters still edge Louisiana charters, Maryland still needs to invest in ammo and a fortified island complex in hopes of surviving the nuclear zombie apocalypse. The main storyline here is that like the Credo report finding Detroit and New Orleans neck and neck, NAEP finds a similar result in 2011 to 2015 cohort gains for Louisiana and Michigan charters.

The question of which measure is better seems debatable imo so it is easier to simply present both.


Michigan Charters Continued

November 5, 2017

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

When Doug Harris took to the pages of the New York Times to denounce Michigan charter schools as “the biggest school reform disaster in the country” he might have profited from an honest reading of the research literature and 10 minutes looking at NAEP data. For example, it took about 10 minutes to calculate the above chart. Michigan charters must be the fastest improving “disaster” yet seen.

Harris went on in the piece not just to trash Michigan, but to boast of the wonders of New Orleans charters. Harris used New Orleans to contrast as the Happy Hunting Grounds of charter schooling in contrast to the Detroit hellscape:

The New Orleans results have been impressive. In the decade after the reforms, the city’s standardized test scores have increased by eight to 15 percentile points and moved the district from the bottom to almost the state average on many measures. High school graduation and college entry rates also seem to have improved significantly, even while suspensions, expulsions and the rate of students switching schools have all dropped. Detroit and New Orleans represent radically different versions of school choice — and the one that seems to work is the one that uses the state oversight that Ms. DeVos opposes.

Well that sounds awfully impressive, but it perhaps less so when you check the only common metric testing data available in both Michigan and Louisiana charters-NAEP. When you plot the cohort gains of Louisiana and Michigan charter schools against state averages, it looks something like:

NAEP cohort gain calculations have their limitations, but the reader should note that similar findings to these were found in research on trends in state test scores. Perhaps someone will be kind enough to provide a link to the Credo dot chart showing nearly indistinguishable growth performance between Detroit and New Orleans in the comment section, but it was reminiscent of this chart as I recall.

Ironically, Harris also denounced Detroit charters as a “Wild West.” Just for the record- here is what a real Wild West charter sector’s results looked like between 2011 and 2015:





The LINE to apologize to Michigan CHARTER SCHOOLS forms to the LEFT!

November 4, 2017

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Regular Jayblog readers may recall the tizzy that some worked themselves into about Michigan charter schools after Betsy DeVos was nominated to serve as Secretary of Education. Oh they are horrible, terrible, no good, “Wild West” etc. Max Eden and others attempted to set the record straight, noting Credo studies and other evidence showing stronger performance for Michigan charters. Not everyone much cared to consider any of that evidence business, and rumors of horrible Michigan charter school performance linger on to this day.

Well it turns out that NAEP cohort gains reinforce the conclusions of the Credo study and two other studies finding positive charter results. Those look like respectable math gains and very strong reading gains for “the biggest school reform disaster in the country” to these eyes. NAEP cohort gains are not perfect or infallible measures, but they are pointing in the same direction as the studies. Moreover, cohort gains rank above merely looking at raw scores as measures of school quality, which is **ahem** precisely one of the mistakes that critics made.

If Michigan charters are a catastrophic failure, what are we to make of the majority of state education systems (aka the blue dots)? Maryland is getting nervous with all of this disaster talk. If Michigan charters are a reform disaster then the Maryland school system just might qualify as a non-reform post-nuclear zombie apocalypse extinction event.

Maryland need brainnnns…and SPF 50,000 sunscreen!

If Michigan’s charter school skeptics would like to take a crack at explaining the above data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the three studies showing positive results the comment section courteously awaits your visit. Otherwise the line to offer an apology to educators running Michigan charters and the students making academic progress in them forms to the left.



Michigan Eliminates Dunce Cap on Charter Schools

December 15, 2011

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Michigan legislature has voted to eliminate caps on charter schools. This has been a long, hard-fought victory for parental choice supporters.

Over a decade ago, I wrote a study for Mackinac looking at public choice policies in Michigan, focusing on the Detroit area. It proved to be an interesting project. I interviewed a number of suburban superintendents, and they laid out a pattern whereby districts began participating in open enrollment once they felt an enrollment pinch from charter schools. District participation in open enrollment then put pressure on neighboring districts to participate, and so it started a bit of a domino effect.

I’ll never forget interviewing a superintendent from an elite inner-ring suburban district who told me quite boldly that in his district, private schools constituted his true competition, and that he wasn’t worried about charter schools or open enrollment. When I asked him why his district chose not to make seats available through open enrollment, he paused and thoughtfully said “I think the feeling historically around here has been that we have a good thing going on, and there has been a desire to keep the unwashed masses out.”

I appreciated his honesty, but I found myself stunned nevertheless. I mean there was no way to see this statement in some sort of racial context.

Personally, I am very happy that the cap has been lifted on charter schools in Michigan. I hope that the day will come when complacent check-book choice districts might reconsider their decision not to admit students whose parents happen not to be able to afford a $400,000 mortgage. Likewise I hope that increased competition will result in closure of some poorly performing charter schools.

The only sad note is that Michigan’s Blaine amendment will continue to prevent any sort of private school choice, and that Catholic schools in Detroit, which have already been disappearing, may very well go extinct entirely, perhaps along with other private schools. Catholic schools can survive, but the outlook in Detroit is grim indeed. These schools stood as nearly the only high quality options in a once great city for many decades, and is a pity to lose them. If anyone is ever going to develop new low-cost high quality private school models, Detroit seems likely to be a greenfield in the future.

The bigger picture however is that Michigan parents will be gaining new school options. Hopefully the Michigan legislature will continue to pursue additional measures to improve K-12 education outcomes in addition to choice, but today the are to be congratulated for this important step.