Mile-High Scores

Colorado charter success


Two recent analyses show that Colorado charter school students are outdoing their public school counterparts on state and national standardized tests. The Colorado Department of Education's latest study of charter schools, which serve more than 12 percent of the state's K–12 students, reveals that they are more diverse, spend less money per pupil, and do better on the state standardized test than Colorado public schools do.

Meanwhile, Matthew Ladner of the Foundation for Excellence in Education recently analyzed charter students' scores on the nation's best-regarded standardized test, the National Assessment for Educational Progress. He compared them to the state's overall score, which mostly measures public-school performance. Ladner found that Colorado charters beat every other state's overall rankings in 8th grade math; they were a hefty 11 points ahead of the nearest runner-up, perennial education heavyweight Massachusetts. The trend was strongest among white affluent students, but Colorado charter students who were Hispanic or eligible for free or reduced lunch still outscored their peers in all but two and three states, respectively.

And the high scores weren't confined to math. When it comes to 8th grade reading, Ladner found that white Colorado charter students outscored their peers nationwide, while Hispanic and lower-income charter students outdid their peers in 44 and 41 states, respectively.