A new Fordham Institute study, Charter School Boards in the Nation's Capital, asks a simple but largely uninvestigated question: Do the characteristics, views, and practices of charter boards have any bearing on charter school quality?
To answer this critical question, we enlisted two of Bellwether Education Partners’ savviest analysts, Juliet Squire and Allison Crean Davis.
The object of our analysis, Washington D.C., has both pros and cons. It’s a good place to analyze charter board governance because its scale (sixty-two boards overseeing 112 campuses) is sufficient for comparisons. And it operates under a single set of laws and regulations, a uniform set of school-quality metrics, and a single authorizer that values transparency.
Yet the sector is also atypical. It is relatively large—enrolling nearly half of the city’s public school students—and high performing. This differentiates it from many others across the country that are less established, more fragile, and include suburban and rural charter schools, so we cannot and do not claim that our findings are generalizable beyond the nation’s capital.
Nevertheless, they paint a detailed and revealing portrait of what is occurring in D.C.—and what may be, could be, or should be occurring elsewhere. Our survey response rate was...