Apples to Apples 2019: Charter, Choice Outperform Public Schools in Growth, Test Scores

Wisconsin’s education options are working

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s 2019 Apples to Apples report finds, for a third year in a row, Wisconsin’s charter schools and private schools in the choice program are outperforming traditional public schools. These results, and many more, provide a clear, fair, and consistent look at Wisconsin’s schools, school sectors, and how they perform on a level playing field.

What is Apples to Apples? Since 2017, WILL has employed a sophisticated statistical analysis to provide the fairest possible comparison between Wisconsin schools. In short, the report examines how Wisconsin schools perform if every school had a similar student body.

Notable Results

  • Many of the top schools in Wisconsin are private and charter schools.
    • 5 of the top 20 schools in the state are private voucher schools. 4 of the top 20 are charter schools.
    • 14 of the top 20 schools for Hispanic enrollment in the state are choice or charter schools.
  • Charter schools and choice schools perform better that district public schools in Milwaukee.
    • Non-instrumentality charter schools see proficiency rates in math exceed rates in MPS by 13.0% and 12.1% in ELA on average. For Independent charters, proficiency in math exceeds MPS schools by 8.2%.
    • Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program has proficiency rates in math that exceed rates in MPS by 3.9% and 4.6% in ELA on average.
    • Choice, non-instrumentality charters, and independent charter all see better growth than Milwaukee Public Schools.
  • Wisconsin’s parental choice programs outside of Milwaukee (Racine and Statewide) are doing better than traditional public schools in academics and growth.
    • Proficiency exceeds traditional public schools by 3.05% in the Racine and statewide voucher programs.
    • Growth rates in the Racine and statewide voucher programs exceed that of traditional public schools by 6.8 points.
  • Wisconsin’s rural public schools are in trouble.
    • Accounting for student characteristics, performance in rural and small town schools is lower than suburban schools. On this year’s analysis, the performance of urban schools is no different than suburban schools once student characteristics are accounted for.

The Quote: WILL Research Director Will Flanders said, “Wisconsin’s school choice programs are working. Despite partisan attacks and myths masquerading as truth, the data is consistent and clear. Policymakers and parents can be confident that more education options can improve outcomes for Wisconsin students.”

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