Charters & Choice

Belatedly, policymakers and researchers are recognizing that quality charter schools depend on quality charter school authorizing. This report presents findings from a pioneering national examination of the organizations that sponsor, oversee, and hold accountable U.S. charter schools. Its primary aim is to describe and characterize these crucial but little-known organizations.

Related resources

Authorizer Survey Online Appendix: Full Survey Responses (Word File)

Authorizer Survey Database (final data)

Most discussions of charter schools assume that they are monolithic. This study—the first of its kind—categorizes the nation’s charter schools into a robust typology according to their educational approaches. It also provides demographic information by type—how many are in each category, what their student populations look like, and so forth—and makes a first attempt at comparing their test scores. The result is a much richer and more accurate picture of the charter school universe.

Of all the controversies swirling around the nation?s charter schools, none is more hotly contested than the debate over funding. Into the fray leaps Charter School Funding: Inequity's Next Frontier, the most comprehensive and rigorous study ever undertaken of how public charter schools are funded, state by state, and how their revenues measure up to dollars received by district-run schools.

Charter school opponents have been taking shots nationally at charter schools in recent days, but these sorts of attacks have been a common occurrence in Dayton, Ohio since charter schools first opened there in 1998. Herewith is a report from the field on how charter schools are faring in the Buckeye State circa September 2004.

This report, prepared for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute by Public Impact, compares charter school funding and district school funding. It finds that charter schools are under-funded compared to their district counterparts, even after accounting for differences in students and grade levels. These findings should be taken seriously by those who argue that charter schools drain funds from district schools.

Prepared for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute By Public Impact

This new report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is the first significant study of the organizations that authorize charter schools. The report examines 23 states and the District of Columbia to determine how supportive they are of charter schools, how good a job their authorizers are doing, and how policy makers could strengthen their states' charter programs.

This report presents a summary of the administration and results of annual pre- and post-testing of pupils enrolled in charter schools in Dayton and Springfield, Ohio during the 2001-2002 school year. The assessment activities were a project of the Education Resource Center of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce (DACC). The efforts of the DACC were supported in part via philanthropic gifts from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and other sources. The primary purposes of the assessment project were: 1) to help classroom teachers monitor individual student achievement and adapt instruction to promote learning; 2) to provide data for schools to assist them in gauging and improving their overall effectiveness; and 3) to foster public accountability and model the use of data to inform educational decision making.

Why haven't charter schools taken hold in suburban areas in most states? In this report, Pushpam Jain takes a close look at three states with high proportions of charter schools in the suburbs to see how they managed to introduce charter schools, and then compares them to one state with only a few charter schools to see what is blocking the spread of charters there. His conclusion: if a state sets up a system for authorizing charter schools where the only authorizing body doesn't want charter schools, there won't be many charter schools!

Charter schools grant significant autonomy to their principals, but do their principals make decisions that would not be possible in ordinary schools? Are they creating schools that are truly different from (and potentially better than) regular district schools? For this report, Bill Triant conducted extended interviews with eight charter school principals in Massachusetts on five dimensions of school operations (teacher hiring, budgetary control, instruction and curriculum, organizational design, and accountability) to shed light on how they use their autonomy. He finds that when charter school principals are given the opportunity to innovate, they do so.

When schools are held accountable for results and freed from red tape governing personnel decisions, they take advantage of their freedom by adopting innovative strategies for hiring and rewarding teachers, according to this new report by economists Michael Podgursky and Dale Ballou. This study is based on a survey administered to a random sample of 132 public charter schools that have been operating for at least three years.

Pages