Julian Vasquez Heilig, a scholar at California State University in Sacramento, reports on a research project comparing the performance of charter schools to public schools, using state scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP is administered by the U.S. Department of Education and governed by a nonpartisan board appointed by the Secretary of Education. Since members serve for four-year terms, most were appointed by Arne Duncan or John King.

Heilig, with the assistance of Blake zclark, Jr., reviewed NAEP data and reached the following conclusions:

“One would most likely suspect from the current positive public discourse about charter schools that they would display higher national and large city NAEP performance when compared non-charter neighborhood schools, however, this is not actually the case when examining achievement data at the school level. Out of the 28 total comparison tests run, only 4 times did charters produce higher composite score averages than non-charter neighborhood public schools— 8th grade reading and math in the years 2013 and 2015. There was a tie in the large city comparison for 4th grade reading in the year 2013 as charter schools and non-charter neighborhood public schools displayed the same average composite scale scores. In the other 23 cases charter schools produced lower average composite scores on the NAEP (math, reading, science) than non-charter neighborhood public schools.”

The difference favoring public schools in 12th grade was very large.

In light of this disparity, why do so many federal and state policy makers consider charters a remedy for low-scoring public schools? What is the remedy for low-performing charter schools?