Student Achievement in Florida’s Charter Schools: A Comparison with Achievement in Traditional Public Schools

The ultimate proof of success for any charter school is the achievement of its students. The analysis of 2010-11 student achievement data demonstrates that charter schools offer parents and policy makers a viable option for improving education in the state.

The data contained in this report is derived from student performance on the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT), and is designed to allow a comparative analysis of the academic achievement of students attending charter schools versus students attending traditional public schools. The report contains data spanning eight years of FCAT results. Using data from the 2010-11 school year the report makes 168 comparisons covering three measurements: FCAT proficiency percentages, achievement gaps, and learning gains. Each of these measurement areas is further broken down to offer a more nuanced view of student achievement.

The FCAT proficiency percentages are used to measure both overall rates of proficiency by grade groupings, and comparisons of subgroup performance. This section of the report contains 54 separate comparisons of student achievement. Charter school students outperformed traditional public school students in 50 of the 54 comparisons, with one tie.

The achievement gap section of the report contains both longitudinal and current data that are used to analyze the gap between white students and African American students and white students and Hispanic students, in reading, math, and science. This section of the report includes 18 separate comparisons of current achievement gaps. The achievement gap was lower for charter school students in 16 of the 18 comparisons.

The learning gains section of the report includes 96 comparisons. The report compares the percentage of students in charter schools making learning gains against the percentage of students in traditional public schools making learning gains, by subject, grade level, and subgroup. The percentage of students making learning gains was higher in charter schools in 79 of the 96 comparisons. The percentage of students making learning gains was higher in traditional public schools in 7 of the 96 comparisons. There was no difference in the percentage of students making learning gains in 10 of the 96 comparisons.