Texas Implemented a special ed cap, AZ implemented an ESA for special education children. Guess what happened next.

May 15, 2017

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Raise Your Hand Texas group has released a white paper opposing an ESA program for special needs students in the Lone Star State. It is alas replete with boiler-plate nostrums etc. but if private choice is terrible for children with disabilities attending district schools, you have an awfully hard time finding evidence for it in the NAEP. We can get NAEP trends for children with disabilities on all six NAEP exams for the 2009 to 2015 period. The Arizona legislature passed a private choice tax credit for special needs children in 2009, and followed that up with the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program in 2011.

Texas meanwhile during this period had the Texas Education Agency implementing a defacto cap on the number of special needs students in districts, without the slightest apparent protest from Texas districts, who implemented the program quite effectively. Ah, well, at least those Texas districts should have been doing a better job delivering special ed students for the children with disabilities they served, right?

Wrong.

Arizona authorities decided to expand options and increase freedom. As you can see, Arizona students with disabilities have demonstrated academic progress much better than the nation as a whole, which has either been treading water or actually declining. This looks pretty bad until you examine the scores for Texas students with disabilities, which are not only consistently worse, but which failed to show improvement in any of the six subjects covered by NAEP.

These trends obviously have factors other than choice which impact them, but if the theory is that ESAs are terrible for children with disabilities in public schools, we can reject the hypothesis. Texas has a special education disaster on its hands, while Arizona is making progress far and away above the national average. No student group has more to gain from choice than children with disabilities- including those who choose to remain in districts.

 


The 2016 AZ Merit: Improving but Meh versus Mehssachusetts

September 19, 2016

(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.

az-merit-2016

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

azmerit-anglo

Move on to Hispanic students:

az-merit-hispanic

African-American students:

azmerit-black

 

Native American students:

azmerit-native-american

Asian students:

azmerit-asian

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

azmerit-sped

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:

amerit-ecodis

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

azmerit-non-disadvantaged

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:

az-ma

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:


Scenes from the Great Education Stagnation

October 2, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here are 3,000 for you. First American manufacturing does more with fewer people (HT: AEI’s Mark J. Perry):

Okay good- ready for the next one? Heritage chart showing that the American education massively increases employment relative to the student count:

 

But it’s all fine because the kids are learning so much surrounded by so many adults compared to the past right? Er, no:

 

 


District or Charter Schools in the District of Columbia?

May 18, 2012

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

DC’s NAEP numbers allowed for some additional controls to be introduced when comparing charter and district schools than I was able to do with the Milwaukee comparison. The following chart shows the percentage of general education program students who qualify for a free or reduced lunch scoring “Basic or Better” on the 2011 NAEP exams. Special education students, ELL students and middle/high income students are not included in order to get a quick closer to apples to apples comparison.

Now of course for a real apples to apples you need a random assignment study, but those have been done and find results favorable to charter schools. This chart doesn’t address the topic of valid stastical significance, but rather whether the differences are meaningful.

Considering that charters get far less money that DCPS per pupil and show higher levels of academic achievement, this looks to be a success, albeit both the blue and the red columns leave much to be desired. The red columns leave much more to desired however, especially when you consider that that they are wallowing in money.


Why are we having this fight again?

June 16, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Could the adoption of common core standards lead to substantial academic gains, even if somehow developed and kept at a high level in some imaginary Federal Reserve type fortress of political solitude and kept safe from the great national dummy down?

I ran NAEP numbers for all 50 states and the District of Columbia and calculated the total gains on the main NAEP exams (4th and 8th grade Reading and Math) for the period that all states have been taking NAEP (2003-2009). In order to minimize educational and socio-economic differences, I compared the scores of non-special program (ELL, IEP) children eligible for a free or reduced price lunch.

I then ranked those 50 states, and the table below presents the Top 10, along with the total grades by year for the strength of state proficiency standards as measured by Paul Peterson. Peterson judges state assessments by comparing scores on the state exam to those on NAEP.

To my eyes, it looks as though either nothing or next to nothing is going on here. The top three performers (FL, DC and PA) have unremarkable standards vis a vis NAEP.  Russ Whitehurst has written that some commercially available curriculum packages have shown good results in random assignment studies.

Jolly good- I suggest states adopt them rather than this politically naive common core standards effort.

NAEP Gains in 4h and 8th Grade Math and Reading for FRL, Non-IEP, Non-ELL students, 2003-09 for the Top 10 states (FL=1, NY = 10) compared to State Standards Grades by Peterson and Lastron-Adanon
2003 2005 2007 2009
FL C C C+ C

DC

C C
PA C C C C
MA A A A A
VT B- B B+
Hawaii B B+ B+ A
Md C+ C C D+
NV C C C
NJ C C C B
NY C C C+ D

NAEP Gains in 4th and 8th Grade Math and Reading for FRL, Non-IEP, Non-ELL students, 2003-09 for the Top 10 states (FL=1, NY = 10) compared to State Standards Grades by Peterson and Lastron-Adanon
2003 2005 2007 2009
FL C C C+ C

DC

C C
PA C C C C
MA A A A A
VT B- B B+
Hawaii B B+ B+ A
Md C+ C C D+
NV C C C
NJ C C C B
NY C C C+ D

2009 NAEP Reading Scores Released Tomorrow

March 23, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Tune in here tomorrow for news and analysis.


PJM on NAEP and NCLB

May 9, 2009

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Today Pajamas Media runs my column on the latest long-term trend NAEP results and what they say to critics and supporters of NCLB:

The good news for the critics is that the Nation’s Report Card shows reading and math scores still have not substantially changed since 1971.

The good news for supporters is that the Nation’s Report Card shows reading and math scores still have not substantially changed since 1971.

Welcome to the confusing world of education policy!