The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) conducted a pilot study of America's charter schools and their students as part of the 2003 NAEP assessments in reading and mathematics at the fourth-grade level. NAEP also surveyed these participating charter schools about their practices, structure, and governance.
Charter schools are public schools of choice. They serve as alternatives to the regular public schools to which students are assigned. While there are many similarities between charter schools and other public schools, they do differ in some important ways, including the makeup of the student population and their location.
A number of sources were used to construct the final sample of charter schools. Information from local school administrators, follow-up interviews, and field staff was used to update and verify data from the 2003 NAEP school questionnaire. Ultimately, 150 schools were identified as charter schools, including 12 additional schools not originally identified as charter schools on the NAEP website at the time of the 2003 NAEP data release.
Charter school students took the fourth-grade NAEP reading and mathematics assessments at the same time as students in all other schools. Within each of the 150 participating charter schools, a random sample of students participated in either the reading or mathematics assessment. About half participated in reading and about half in mathematics, with 3,115 charter school students participating in the reading assessment, and 3,154 charter school students participating in the mathematics assessment.
NAEP also surveyed these participating charter schools about their practices, structure, and governance.