The autonomy granted to charter schools only offers the opportunity for high-quality schools and is not a guarantee of innovation, a new report says.
The study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, Seattle, spanned four years and analyzed data from 24 charter schools and two surveys of charter school principals in six states. It found that charter schools, with few exceptions, look similar to traditional public schools in organization, curriculum, administrative structure, and classroom practice. Convincing others that charters should operate differently is a challenge, the study found. The study also uncovered problems in some charter schools with teacher attrition and internal disagreements.
To make charter schools more effective, the study recommends: authorizing only those schools with clear, achievable missions; providing leadership training for governing boards, as well as administrators; improving state funding; and allowing more experimentation with lifting traditional certification requirements for charter schools.
A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2011 edition of Education Week as Charter Schools