Charter Students Outperform Traditional Students by a Wide Margin

According to official state data, how do public charter students compare to public traditional students on state End-of Grade tests?  The NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has released the raw data for each public school’s end-of-grade test results. DPI also calculates the percentage of tests passed – known as “composite performance percentages” –  for each school and for all public school students in the state as a whole.  kgrad

However, they avoid showing a breakdown of performance percentages that compares public traditional school students with public charter school students.  Because both groups of schools administer exactly the same tests, it is revealing to see how the two public school groups compare. As we know, the state average for all public schools is 56.6%. So what is the performance average for all of the state’s charter school students? 

Grouping all charter schools together as a district, this “charter district” has a grade level performance composite of 66.7% for all of its students.  If this “charter district” is ranked with the other 115 districts in the state, the charter district ranks 10th, with 106 districts ranking below it.

As will be seen, public charter school students pass significantly more of their tests than do traditional school students.   At the criteria for Grade Level proficiency (EOG scores of 3,4 or 5), public charter students pass 19% more of their tests than public traditional school students. At the criteria for Career/College Level (EOG scores of 4 or 5), public charter students pass 22% more of their tests than public traditional students.  These student data explain why there is a higher percentage of A+, A, and B schools among public charters than public traditional.   Note also that a recent DPI report revealed that public charter schools enrolled a higher percentage of African-American students than did public traditional schools last year.

All necessary data may be found at in the first summary report at

The table below presents the results of calculating the performance percentages for each of these school types from the raw data as reported by DPI.  All calculations are directly from the file named  acctsumm15.xlsx and the results are shown below in Table 1


Total Tests Taken
Tests Passed at Grade level (Numerator) Tests Passed at Career/College Level (Numerator) % Proficient Grade Level % Proficient Career Level
Traditional Schools Only 1,897,612 1,064,519 881,007 56.1% 46.4%
Charter Schools Only 94,588 63,066 53,335 66.7% 56.4%
All Public Students 1,992,200 1,127,585 934,342 56.6% 46.9%

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools of choice that must enroll every child who applies.  They operate on a per-pupil allotment that is approximately 73% of the money that goes to traditional schools, but they may choose their own curriculum and teaching method as determined by their independent local boards of volunteers. Charter schools receive no separate money for classrooms or classroom equipment. Therefore charters must pay for these necessities from their reduced per-pupil allotments thereby creating substantial savings for the North Carolina taxpayer and helping to relieve the overcrowding in more expensive traditional schools.

Public charter students passing a higher percentage of their tests at a lower cost proves that public education can benefit both academically and financially by  applying  free market principles.

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