Comparisons of Students’ Mathematics and Reading Achievement in Texas: Public versus Charter Schools

Abstract: In the past two decades, charter schools have become increasingly prevalent and popular in the U.S. education landscape. The purpose of this study is to examine the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills [TAKS] school level mathematics and reading test scores performances over time by school types. The specific research questions are: how does student academic performance differ for students enrolled in charter schools from non-charter public schools? How does minority student academic performance differ by each of the three comparison school types for minority students? The sample consisted of 7,220 Texas schools including charter schools.  A hierarchical regression model with propensity scores as covariates and school type as the primary grouping variable formed the basic analysis. Public schools did not significantly differ from charter schools in terms of achievement. Charter and public schools traded performance across grades and subjects. We found that a multi-school charter system, Harmony Public Schools [HPS], consistently produced better achievement at grades 6-11 on mathematics and reading for all students. Findings and implications are discussed in light of developing more systematic studies to examine charter school systems.

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