Inside Charter Schools: Unlocking Doors to Student Success

This summative report—compiling much primary-
and secondary-source information—is the culmination of a four-year
charter-school project from the National Charter School Research Project. In
it, Betheny Gross offers an insider’s look at charter-school leaders, teachers,
and academic programs via surveys, case study analyses, and evaluation of
third-party longitudinal data. The report is full of interesting tidbits about charters
(35 percent, for example, operate for an extended school year, though few have
adopted novel instructional models), and well-articulates the benefits and
obstacles for school leaders and teachers who work in the charter-school
sector. The abundance of information presented in this report, while informative,
also somewhat overshadows the main thesis—that charter autonomy
can only create the opportunity for success, not assure it. Based on all of the
information garnered through the four-year Inside Charter Schools project,
Gross comes away with policy recommendations aimed at supporting charter-school
leaders and teachers. Among them: “Authorizers need to look closely for a clear
and achievable mission” and “State laws should allow charter schools to operate
outside traditional teacher contracts.” Those interested in unlocking the door to
the charter-school classroom need look no further.

Betheny Gross, “Inside Charter Schools:
Unlocking Doors to Student Success
,” (Seattle, WA: Center on Reinventing
Public Education, February 2011).