James V. Shuls, Ph.D.
The performance of charter schools in Missouri often is the subject of much scrutiny. Ideally, we would evaluate schools not just on attainment, but also on growth. Unfortunately, I do not have access to data that allow me to do the latter (yet). Nevertheless, in this and my subsequent three posts, I will present a snapshot comparison of overall charter performance compared to the performance of the districts from which charter students come.

As you will see, Missouri charter schools have shown steady growth over the past five years. Though there still is much to be desired, there also is room for optimism.

The data I use in this analysis contain the results of the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) and End-of-Course exams (EOC) for the past five years. In Missouri, students in grades three through eight take the MAP test in communication arts, math, and science. End-of-Course exams are required in four subjects: algebra I, biology, English II, and government. Student scores are reported in one of four categories: below basic, basic, proficient, and advanced.

These data provide for a simple comparison of schools and school districts at one point in time, but should be viewed with some caution because the scores do not capture prior student achievement.

Below, I display the percentage of students in Saint Louis and Kansas City charter and traditional public schools scoring proficient or advanced on all required communication arts exams in each of the past five years. This includes students who took the MAP or required EOC exams in communication arts.

In both cities, the overall performance of students is low, with less than 35 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in all four groups. Of the four, Kansas City charter schools have slightly higher achievement in most years, including 2012. Noticeably, charter schools in Saint Louis have shown steady increases in the percent of students scoring proficient or advanced since 2008. They have closed the gap with Saint Louis Public Schools in terms of achievement, from 7.6 percentage points in 2011 to 3.3 percentage points in 2012. Over the past five years, the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced in communication arts has increased 74 percent in Saint Louis and 26 percent in Kansas City, respectively.

Charter and Traditional Public School Performance in Communication Arts


About the Author

James Shuls
James Shuls

James V. Shuls is an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and Distinguished Fellow in Education Policy at the Show-Me Institute.