This website presents results and information from a two-year national charter school accountability study conducted by researchers from Public Impact with funding from the Smith Richardson Foundation.
The study asks the question: “How are Charter Schools Being Held Accountable for Results?” To answer this question we looked at 50 charter school “decisions” from around the country.
For the purposes of this study we defined charter school “decisions” as definitive action taken by a sponsoring agency on the legal status of a charter. A sponsoring agency, or charter school authorizer, is an agency authorized by a particular state’s charter school law to charter a school by negotiating a contract that holds the school accountable to agreed upon expectations. These agreed upon contracts have a term of expiration – usually 3 to 5 years under the first contract. In theory, if charter schools meet the expectations set for student success and maintain good school-business practices, the charter will be renewed for another period of time. At the same time, there is a looming threat of closure. If these schools do not meet academic expectations or mismanage the school, the charter can be revoked in the midst of the term, or not renewed at the charter’s expiration date. The three types of “decisions” we focused on are Renewal, Revocation, or Nonrenewal.
This two-year project was designed to investigate the very basis of the charter school concept by asking several key research questions:
- To what extent are authorizers setting clear, measurable expectations that charter schools must meet in order to attain renewal or avoid revocation?
- To what extent are authorizers gathering information that allows them to determine whether schools are meeting these expectations?
- To what extent are authorizers making decisions based on a comparison of actual performance with expectations?
- To the extent that authorizers are facing challenges related to questions 1 through 3, what are the sources of these challenges?
- What practical recommendations emerge from these findings for authorizers and state policy-makers?
Click here for more information about the research design. From this site, you can access the study’s principal products:
“High-Stakes”: Findings from a National Study of Life-or-Death Decisions by Charter School Authorizers” [pdf]: a paper summarizing findings and offering analysis of 50 high-stakes charter school decisions from around the country.