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City Study 2019: Buffalo - Summary of Findings

In 2019, CREDO at Stanford University completed an analysis of the performance of public schools in Buffalo, New York. This summary highlights the findings about the academic performance of students in public K-12 schools in Buffalo. School performance is measured by averaging the one-year learning gains or growth students enrolled in the school made from one school year to the next. We benchmark the growth of Buffalo students against the average academic growth in New York state and then compare the progress of charter school students with that of similar traditional public school (TPS) students within Buffalo, accounting for student characteristics.

Overall: Students in Buffalo made smaller learning gains than the state average in both reading and math throughout the 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 growth periods.

Sector: Charter schools in Buffalo made gains similar to the state average in both reading and math from 2015-16 through 2017-18. The growth of magnet schools in Buffalo relative to the state average differed by subject: 1 In reading, they posted weaker growth in 2015-16, caught up in 2016-17, and outgrew the state average in 2017-18; in math, they were on par with the state average in all three growth periods. Non-magnet TPS in Buffalo made weaker learning gains than the state average in both subjects throughout the study span. Cross-sector comparisons within Buffalo show that charter schools posted stronger growth in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and similar progress in 2017 compared with non-magnet TPS in both subjects. Buffalo magnet schools outgrew non-magnet TPS in reading in all three growth periods. In math, magnet schools in the city made stronger learning gains than non-magnet TPS in 2016-17 and grew similarly in the other two years.

A deeper dive into Buffalo student growth for the period ending in Spring 2018 reveals the following findings:

Race/Ethnicity: Buffalo black students, overall and particularly those enrolled in TPS, exhibit weaker learning gains than the state average learning of black students in both reading and math. Similarly, Hispanic students in Buffalo charter schools make similar growth while those in Buffalo TPS show weaker gains in both subjects when compared with the average Hispanic student in the state.  A comparison of sectors within Buffalo indicates no significant difference in progress associated with charter or TPS attendance for either black or Hispanic students.

Poverty, ELL, and Special Education: Buffalo students living in poverty, overall and particularly those from TPS, make less progress than the state average of students in poverty in both reading and math. English Language Learners (ELLs) in the city show similar patterns: Compared with the statewide average ELLs, ELLs attending Buffalo charter schools perform similarly while ELLs in Buffalo TPS make weaker growth in both subjects. Buffalo students receiving special education services, overall and especially those in TPS, show weaker learning gains in reading than the statewide average special education student. Special education students in the city grow similarly in math relative to the state average of special education students, regardless of the sector of their schools. Comparisons of charter schools and TPS within Buffalo reveal no significant differences in growth by sector for students living in poverty or special education students in either subject. ELLs enrolled in Buffalo charter schools make significantly stronger growth in math than ELLs attending Buffalo TPS.

Gender: When compared with the state average of students of the same gender, both male and female students in Buffalo charter schools show gains equivalent to the state average while both genders in Buffalo TPS post weaker growth. The pattern holds true for both reading and math. Within Buffalo, the learning gains of either gender do not differ significantly by the school sector in which students are enrolled.


1 Magnet schools in this study of Buffalo refer to whole magnet schools with selective admission in the city.