Author: Nappi, Lisa A.

Dissertation Title: Comparative Analysis of the Academic Outcomes Among Public Charter and Traditional Schools

Doctoral Degree: EDD

Chair: Rollen   Fowler

Current education reform efforts have taken place in New Jersey in the form of charter school expansion for lowering the achievement gap and improving academic achievement. The problem is there is inadequate evidence to support the expansion of charter schools as an option for improving student achievement. The purpose of this ex post facto, quantitative study was to compare the academic achievement between New Jersey's charter and traditional public schools. Data for this study was extracted from the publically available files from the New Jersey Department of Education Assessment Reports. A school-by-school matching process and multiple regression analyses were used to compare the mean scaled scores on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJASK) between fourth and eighth grade students attending charter and traditional public schools. A total of 150 schools for fourth grade and 139 schools for eighth grade were used in this study. The matched samples approach showed a statistically significant difference in students attending charter schools as superior to students attending traditional schools (fourth grade language arts = t(27) = -3.53, p = .001; eighth grade language arts = t(20) = -3.27, p = .004; fourth grade math , t(27) = -2.40, p = .024 ; eighth grade math = t(20) = -2.88, p = .009). The regression approach showed a statistically significant difference of eighth-grade language arts achievement for charter school students as higher than traditional school students (R2 = .68, adjusted R2 = .68, F(5, 527) = 223.22, p < .001). Lastly, the percentage of economically disadvantaged students attending charter schools was the strongest predictor of achievement in both categories at both grade levels (fourth grade language arts = â = -.83, p < .001; eighth grade language arts = â = -.79, p < .001; fourth grade math, â = -.72, p < .001; eighth grade math = â = -.71, p < .001). The findings indicate that charter schools may have greater potential for improving academic achievement than traditional schools, however, caution is needed until researchers further investigate the broader relationship between student achievement, charter schools, and school reform.

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