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City Study 2019: St. Louis - Summary of Findings

This summary highlights major findings about the academic performance of students in public K-12 schools in St. Louis. Performance is measured by one-year learning gains or growth students made from one school year to the next. We benchmark the growth of St. Louis students against the state average growth and then compare the progress of charter school students with that of similar TPS students within St. Louis, accounting for student characteristics.

Overall: Students in St. Louis made fewer learning gains compared to the state average in English Language Arts (ELA) in the 2014-15 school year and caught up in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 years. In math, St. Louis students were on par with the state average throughout the 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 school years.

Sector: St. Louis charter school students made similar gains to the state average in both ELA and math from 2014-15 through 2016-17. Magnet schools in St. Louis posted growth similar to the state average across three growth periods except for making stronger progress in math in 2015-16. Compared to the state average, St. Louis non-magnet TPS grew less in ELA in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and caught up in 2016-17. In math, non-magnet TPS in the city were on par with the state average in all three growth periods. Cross-sector comparisons within St. Louis show that charter schools and non-magnet TPS in the city grew similarly during the study period except that charter schools made significantly larger gains in ELA than the latter in 2015-16. The performance of magnet schools was similar to that of non-magnet TPS in 2014-15 and 2016-17 while magnet schools outgrew the other TPS in both subjects in 2015-16.

A deeper dive into St. Louis student growth for the period ending in Spring 2017 reveals the following findings:

Charter School Type: St. Louis charter schools affiliated with a Charter Management Organization (CMO) grow similarly to the state average in both ELA and math. Students attending St. Louis charter schools affiliated with an Education Management Organization (EMO) exhibit similar growth in ELA and weaker gains in math compared to the state average. The progress of St. Louis independent charter schools is on par with the state average in both subjects. Within St. Louis charter sector, EMO-affiliated charters make significantly weaker gains in math compared to independent charter schools.

Race/Ethnicity: The learnings gains of St. Louis black students, regardless of the school sector they attend, are similar to the state average of black students in both ELA and math. Hispanic students in the city, overall and particularly those enrolled in charter schools, post stronger growth in ELA and similar gains in math compared to the state average of Hispanic students. A comparison of sectors within St. Louis indicates no significant difference in progress associated with charter or TPS attendance for both black and Hispanic students.

Poverty, ELL, and Special Education: St. Louis students living in poverty in both charter schools and TPS make similar progress to the state average of students in poverty in both ELA and math. English Language Learners (ELLs) in the city overall post gains similar to the state average of ELLs in both subjects; however, ELLs in St. Louis charter schools outperform the statewide average ELLs in ELA. St. Louis students receiving special education services, regardless of the sector, grow similarly to the state average of special education students in both subjects. Comparisons of charter schools and TPS within St. Louis reveal no significant differences in growth by sector for students living in poverty, ELL students, and special education students.

Gender: Gender comparisons indicate that both male and female students in St. Louis make learnings gains similar to the state average gains for students of the same gender. The pattern holds true for both ELA and math. Within St. Louis, the learning gains for either gender do not differ by the school sector in which students are enrolled.