A Conversation About Public Charter SchoolsUrsula WrightSeptember 2010
Objectives • Define charter schools • Introduce the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools • Discuss the current state of the charter school sector • Share examples of successful collaborations between charters and districts
Definition Public charter schools are tuition-free, public schools that are free to be more innovative and are held accountable for improved student achievement.
Public Charter Schools • Charter schools cannot charge tuition, teach religion, or have admission requirements. • Public charter schools are designed to give school principals and teachers a higher degree of autonomy in exchange for greater accountability.
Public Charter Schools Free to Lead: Autonomy in Highly Successful Charter Schools Hiring: Charter school leaders are continuously encouraged to find the most effective staff for increasing student performance Change the Curriculum or Classroom Structure: Altering the math curriculum so that it is more aligned with student learning habits Scheduling: Extending the school-day to 5 p.m.; allocating longer period-blocks to reading and math instruction Monitoring Performance: Tying teacher evaluations to student achievement Financial Freedom: In addition to overhead decisions, the freedom to pay the most effective teachers more, in order to retain the best teaching staff
National Alliance National Alliance for Public Charter Schools: • Is the only national nonprofit solely committed to advancing the charter sector • Aims to lead public education to unprecedented levels of high academic achievement for all students by fostering a strong charter sector • Achieves goals by advocating for improved policies, building capacity at the state and local level, and strategic communications.
Charter Sector • First charter law passed in Minnesota in 1991; first school opened in 1992 • Forty states and Washington, D.C. have enacted charter laws • 3% of the nation’s public school students attend charters • 9% of Arizona’s public school students are enrolled in charter schools • 61% of NOLA public school students are enrolled in charter schools
Charter Sector Growth: • Today, 5,000 charters serve more than 1.6 million students in 40 states and D.C. • Annually, 100,000 to 175,000 new students enroll in charters; 165,000 new students in 2009-10. • Annually, 350 to 450 new charters open; 456 opened in 2009-10. • Approximately 400,000 students are on waiting lists to get into a charter school.
Charter Sector 53% of public charter schools are located in six states: • California • Arizona • Texas • Ohio • Florida • Michigan
Charter Sector • Four school districts have at least 30% of public school students enrolled in charters • 16 school districts have more than 20% of students enrolled in public charter schools • 82 school districts have at least 10% of their public school students in charter schools • Ten school districts with the largest charter school enrollment represent 21% of the total public charter school population nationwide (~350,000)
Charter Sector Profile: • 90% starts-ups vs. 10% conversions • 77% freestanding vs. 12% charter management organization vs. 11% educational management organization • 56% in cities, 30% in suburbs/commuting distance of urban areas, and 14% in rural areas
Charter Sector • 62% of charter students are non-white (vs. 47% in traditional public schools) • 48% of charter students quality for free and reduced price lunch (vs. 45% in traditional public schools) • Students with an Individualized Education Plan: 11.9% in charters vs. 12.4% in non-charters • Students who are Limited English Proficient: 16.5% in charters vs. 11.2% in non-charters
Who Are Charters Serving? Research overwhelmingly shows that charters typically serve students who are either academically behind their traditional public school peers or at the same academic level.
Quality Imperative • The impact of the public charter school movement rests squarely on the quality of the schools created. • It is imperative to push more charter schools to the top levels of performance, while insisting on prompt corrective action for low performers. • If most charter schools are of high-quality, the movement will thrive and have a lasting impact on public education in America.
Collaborations Denver Public Schools • Shared Campuses Initiative • Denver Public Schools leverages excess capacity in district-owned buildings to encourage new school development, reduce district-wide inefficiency, and facilitate the right-sizing and turnaround of existing programs. • Initiative has converted the district’s most under-utilized school buildings into shared campuses that house multiple schools (both charters and traditional public schools). • Shared Transportation Initiative • Office of Choice and Enrollment Services within DPS is exploring was to make student transportation more efficient • ALL public school students within a certain radius would be allowed to use school buses offered by DPS; pick-up and drop-off points would be strategically mapped to allow easy access to district and charter schools
Collaborations New York City • Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has created an Empowerment Zone within the traditional system, now numbering 535 schools, with a degree of charter-like autonomy over educational programming and curriculum, budgets, and selecting and evaluating each school’s administrative team. • In 2009, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein launched an initiative to make New York City the most charter-friendly district in America, with the goal of having more than 100,000 children enrolled in the city’s public charter schools by the end of the mayor’s third term. • Chancellor met with the leaders of the nation’s highest performing charter networks to identify areas where he could make the education climate more hospitable for the nation’s leading charter networks.
Collaborations Chicago • Inspired by charter success, city and district leaders in Chicagoadopted the Renaissance 2010 initiative in June 2004. Under this initiative, CPS pledged to close low-performing schools and to reopen them as 100 or more small schools by 2010. • Approximately 100 schools were opened; 40% of the new schools are charter school; the balance are contract schools and "performance schools" operated directly by the district.
Collaborations District of Columbia • Schools Chancellor sub-contracted management of several underperforming district schools to charter management organizations in 2009. • Friendship Public Charter Schools now manages Anacostia High School • Friends of Bedford began managing Coolidge and Dunbar High Schools • Scholar Academies assumed management of Stanton Elementary • First annual Data Summit brought together 50 leadership teams from DCPS and the charter sector to explore areas of opportunity around uniformity in data capture and various performance management initiatives • Professional development exchanges between individual charters and district schools
Collaborations Los Angeles • In the fall of 2009, the board of the LA Unified School District voted to take competitive bids for the management of 250 schools (50 new schools and 200 existing ones) to a variety of potential operators – from charter management organizations to teachers unions. • The rules of operation for these arrangements are still being finalized, however it represents a promising opportunity in the nation’s second-largest school district.
Collaborations Arizona Charter Schools Association – Growth Percentiles Initiative • Created Growth Percentiles to measure student progress from one year to the next. • Works in partnership with the Arizona Department of Education to post every public school’s median growth percentile for grades four through eight, comparing each student’s performance to students in the same grade who had similar test scores in past years • Provides workshops to both charters schools and districts on how to use data • Transparency creates public accountability and a rich data-driven, collaborative environment.
Collaborations Hillsborough County School District - Charter School Advisory Council • Top officials from the school district and leaders from the charter school community comprise an advisory council that meets monthly to address and solve issues that may have surfaced. • Council re-shaped a once-hostile climate into a collaboration putting children first • Ex: teachers from district and charter schools participate in joint professional development • Future goal: developing a common set of metrics to evaluate district-charter relations
Collaborations Key Lessons • Successful collaborations are happening across the country • Exemplary collaborations start with a single discussion • Trial and error is to be expected • Extreme obstacles can be overcome when adults place children first in their decision making