Journal of Research in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education

Comparisons of Students’ Mathematics and Reading Achievement in Texas: Public versus Charter Schools

Journal of Research in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, Volume 1, Issue 1, January 2018, pp. 1-27
OPEN ACCESS VIEWS: 247 DOWNLOADS: 251 Publication date: 15 Jan 2018
In the past two decades, charter schools have become increasingly prevalent and popular in the U.S. education landscape. The purpose of this study is to examine the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills [TAKS] school level mathematics and reading test scores performances over time by school types. The specific research questions are: how does student academic performance differ for students enrolled in charter schools from non-charter public schools? How does minority student academic performance differ by each of the three comparison school types for minority students? The sample consisted of 7,220 Texas schools including charter schools.  A hierarchical regression model with propensity scores as covariates and school type as the primary grouping variable formed the basic analysis. Public schools did not significantly differ from charter schools in terms of achievement. Charter and public schools traded performance across grades and subjects. We found that a multi-school charter system, Harmony Public Schools [HPS], consistently produced better achievement at grades 6-11 on mathematics and reading for all students. Findings and implications are discussed in light of developing more systematic studies to examine charter school systems.
Charter Schools, Harmony Public Schools, Mathematics, Reading, and Achievement.
Sahin, A., Willson, V., & Capraro, R. M. (2018). Comparisons of Students’ Mathematics and Reading Achievement in Texas: Public versus Charter Schools. Journal of Research in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 1(1), 1-27.
  1. Betts, J. R., & Tang, Y. E. (2008). Charter schools and student achievement: A review of the evidence. In R. J. Lake (Ed.), Hopes, fears, and reality: A balanced look at American charter schools in 2008 (pp. 1-8). Seattle, WA: National Charter School Research Project, Center on Reinventing Public Education. .
  2. Bandeira de Mello, V. (2011). Mapping state proficiency standards onto the NAEP scales:
  3. Variation and change in state standards for reading and mathematics, 2005–2009 (NCES
  4. 2011-458). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, US
  5. Department of Education. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
  6. Bifulco, R., & Ladd, H. F. (2006). The impacts of charter schools on student achievement:
  7. Evidence from North Carolina. Education Finance and Policy, 1(1), 50-90.
  8. Booker, K., Gilpatric, S., Gronberg, T., & Jansen, D. (2007). The impact of charter school attendance on student performance. Journal of Public Economics, 91, 849–876.
  9. Center For Research On Education Outcomes. (2015). CREDO at Stanford university releases Texas statewide charter school study. Retrieved from
  10. Center For Research On Education Outcomes. (2013). Charter school performance in Louisiana. Retrieved from
  11. Center For Research On Education Outcomes. (2013). National charter school study. Retrieved from
  12. Charter School Achievement Consensus Panel. (2006). Key issues in studying charter schools and achievement: A review and suggestions for national guidelines, National Charter
  13. School Research Project White Paper Series, No. 2 Seattle, WA.
  14. Deis, A. (2011). Harmony charter system expands in Northwest Austin.
  15. Retrieved from
  16. Eisenhart, M. A. (1991). Conceptual frameworks for research circa: Ideas from a cultural anthropologist: Implications for mathematics education researcher. Presented at the thirteenth annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Blacksburg, VA.
  17. Fiske, E., & Ladd, H. (2000). When schools compete: A cautionary tale. Washington, DC:
  18. Brooking Institution.
  19. Fuller, F. (2012). Middle school charters in Texas: An examination of student characteristics and achievement levels of entrants and leavers. Retrieved from
  20. Gronberg, T. J., Jansen, D. W., & Taylor, L. L. (2012). The relative efficiency of charter schools:
  21. A cost frontier approach. Economics of Education Review, 31(2), 302-317.
  22. Guo, S., & Fraser, M. W. (2010). Propensity score analysis: Statistical methods and applications. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  23. Guy, P. J. (2011). Missouri charter schools and educational reform. (Doctoral dissertation).
  24. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (UMI No.3453884)
  25. Lake, R. J. (Ed.) (2009). Hopes, fears, & reality. A balanced look at American charter schools in
  26. 2009 (4th ed.). Seattle, WA: University of Washington Bothell.
  27. Morgan, K. (2011). Charter schools establish their niche in Houston. Retrieved from
  28. Nathan, J. (1996). Charter schools: Creating hope and opportunity for American
  29. education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  30. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. (2011). A closer look at the charter school movement.
  31. 2016.pdf
  32. National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). Rural education in America. Retrieved from
  33. Pearl, J. (2009). Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference (2nd Ed.). New York: Cambridge
  34. Press.
  35. Rosenbaum, P., & Rubin, D. B. (1983). The central role of the propensity score in observational studies for causal effects. Biometrika, 70(1), 4155.
  36. Shanker, A. (1988, March 31). National press club speech. Retrieved from
  37. Sass, T. R. (2006). Charter schools and student achievement in Florida. Education Finance and
  38. Policy, 1(1), 91-122.
  39. Schmidt, W. H. (2011, May). STEM reform: Which way to go? Paper presented at the National Research Council Workshop on Successful STEM Education in K-12 Schools. Retrieved from
  40. Taylor, L. L., Alford, B. L., Rollins, K. B., Brown, D. B., Stillisano, J. R., & Waxman, H. C. (2011). Evaluation of Texas charter schools 2009-10. Executive summary. Report prepared for the Texas Education Agency, Austin, TX. Retrieved from
  41. &libID=2147501996
  42. Texas Education Agency. (2011). Charter schools. Retrieved from
  43. Thompson, B. (2006). Foundations of behavioral statistics: An insight-based approach. Guilford
  44. Press.
  45. Tuttle, C. C., Teh, B., Nichols-Barrer, I., Gill, B. P., & Gleason, P. (2010). Student characteristics and achievement in 22 KIPP middle schools. Washington, DC:
  46. Mathematica Policy Research.
  47. U.S. Department of Education. (2007). Closing the achievement gap: K-8 charter schools.
  48. Retrieved from
  49. Zimmer, R., Gill, B., Booker, K., Lavertu, S., & Witte, J. (2012). Examining charter student achievement effects across seven states. Economics of Education Review, 31(2), 213-224.
  50. Zimmer, R., Gill, B., Booker, K., Lavertu, S., & Witte, J. (2009). Do charter schools “cream skim” students and increase racial-ethnic segregation? Retrieved from
Creative Commons License