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'Satisfaction' Study Takes Stock of Opinions on Charter Schools

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Students, teachers, and parents are most satisfied with charter schools performance on educational matters, but less happy when it comes to transportation, sports, and the school building itself, according to a report scheduled for release this week.

The report is part of a series from the Hudson Institute's "Charter Schools in Action" project and is billed as the first national "satisfaction" study of students, parents, and teachers involved in such schools.

"These schools seem to be havens for kids who have had bad experiences in other schools," said Gregg Vanourek, a research fellow on the charter school project.

The report from the Indianapolis-based think tank is based on surveys and interviews culled from 50 charter schools enrolling roughly 16,000 students in 10 states.The vast majority of students said they thought they were doing better academically in their charter schools than in their previous schools. Parents agreed. Families are choosing charter schools because they think they are smaller, have higher academic standards, and offer a program closer to their own educational philosophy, the study said. Roughly 20 percent of parents said they chose a charter school in part because they felt their children's special needs were not being met.

Teachers chose to work in charter schools mostly because they liked a school's educational philosophy and wanted a new environment. The average charter school teacher has nearly six years of public school teaching experience and some experience teaching in a private school or university, the study found.

Further installments of the report are expected this summer.

Free copies of the study, "Charter Schools as Seen by Those Who Know Them Best: Students, Teachers, and Parents," are available by calling (800) HUDSON-0. The report can also be viewed on the World Wide Web at http://www.edexcellence.net.

--LYNN SCHNAIBERG

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