Newly-released results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), better known as the Nation’s Report Card, demonstrate continued strong performance among students attending Arizona charter schools.

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Overall, Arizona district and charter students scored at approximately the national average among 4th and 8th graders in the NAEP testing areas of math and reading. Charter 8th graders scored far better than their district peers, however. In fact, if Arizona 8th grade charter students were lumped together as their own state, that state would rank #1 nationally in math (see Fig. 1) on the NAEP test, and #2 for reading (see Fig. 2) – trailing only New Jersey.


“State and federal testing has repeatedly demonstrated that Arizona charter schools and students consistently outperform their district counterparts, despite receiving nearly $2,000 less in per-pupil funding,” said Dr. Matthew Ladner, Director of the Arizona Center for Student Opportunity. “The past few years have been difficult for all schools, but we applaud Arizona charter schools for continuing to raise the bar for student achievement in our state.”

The NAEP exam is typically given annually to a random sample of 4th and 8th grade students in each state, but was suspended during the pandemic. Nationally, NAEP results indicate a marked loss in academic progress during the past few years – particularly in mathematics.

In Arizona, NAEP scores for 4th grade mathematics and reading declined among both district and charter students. On 8th grade math and reading, however, Arizona charter students scored approximately one full grade level better than their district peers.

“Arizona charter schools helped lead our state’s academic recovery following the Great Recession,”Dr. Ladner added. “The challenges Arizona students now face are arguably even bigger now, but I am confident in the creativity, innovation and expertise of the charter sector to once again lead the way.”