Charter School Operations and Performance

Charter School Operations and Performance: Evidence from California

Ron Zimmer
Richard Buddin
Derrick Chau
Glenn Daley
Brian Gill
Cassandra Guarino
Laura Hamilton
Cathy Krop
Dan McCaffrey
Melinda Sandler
Dominic Brewer
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 312
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1700edu
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  • Book Info
    Charter School Operations and Performance
    Book Description:

    The report analyzes an array of issues pertaining to accessibility, student achievement, governance, and operation of charter schools in California. Four specific research questions were investigated: (1) What population of students attends charter schools? (2) Is student achievement higher in charter schools than in conventional public schools? (3) What oversight and support do the chartering authorities provide? (4) How do charter schools differ from their conventional public school counterparts in terms of their operation, including finances, academic achievement, and staffing?

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3414-4
    Subjects: Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. SUMMARY
    (pp. xix-xxviii)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  8. ACRONYMS
    (pp. xxxi-xxxii)
  9. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-18)
    Ron Zimmer, Derrick Chau and Brian Gill

    Charter schools represent the fastest-growing segment of the movement to promote parental choice in K–12 schooling. Charter schools are publicly funded schools of choice that operate autonomously, outside the direct control of conventional school districts under the authority of a quasi-contract, or “charter,” granted by a public body. Supporters hope that charter schools will give new options to families, will prove educationally effective by virtue of greater accountability to parents, will promote innovation by reducing red tape, and will provide greater autonomy for decisionmaking at the school level (Finn et al., 2000; Nathan, 1996, 1998). Opponents argue that greater...

  10. Chapter Two STUDENTS SERVED BY CHARTER SCHOOLS
    (pp. 19-36)
    Derrick Chau, Dan McCaffrey, Ron Zimmer, Glenn Daley and Brian Gill

    One key area of policy interest related to charter schools concerns the student populations they serve. More specifically, policy concerns about charter school students relate to both access and integration. In terms of access, policymakers need to know whether the charter schools are ensuring options for disadvantaged students, including low-achieving ones, racial and ethnic minorities, low-income students, and students with special needs. Although charter school advocates have often touted charters as a means to give choices to disadvantaged students who otherwise lack choice (Nathan, 1998), critics have worried that as schools of choice, charters will “skim the cream,” attracting and...

  11. Chapter Three ACADEMIC OUTCOMES
    (pp. 37-62)
    Richard Buddin and Ron Zimmer

    Many charter school advocates argue that charter schools will do a better job of teaching students, because they have more flexibility than conventional public schools that are burdened by central administration (Nathan, 1996; Miron and Nelson, 2000; Danner and Bowman, 2002; Koehler et al., 2003). This flexibility may translate into higher student achievement if charter schools or teachers better meet the needs of their students. In addition, other attributes of charter schools themselves may translate into a better learning environment that may indirectly improve student achievement.

    But flexibility and a different learning environment do not automatically translate into improved achievement....

  12. Chapter Four AUTHORIZATION, GOVERNANCE, AND OVERSIGHT OF CHARTER SCHOOLS
    (pp. 63-84)
    Derrick Chau, Glenn Daley and Brian Gill

    Chapter Two described the students who go to charter schools, and Chapter Three reported on their academic performance. This chapter turns to our third research question, which addresses the relationship between chartering authorities and the charter schools that they authorize. One rationale underlying the charter school law is that these schools are to have more operational autonomy than conventional public schools in exchange for greater accountability for results. The governance and oversight sections of this chapter directly explore this issue by investigating the patterns of autonomy and accountability of charter schools relative to their chartering authorities.

    The analysis in this...

  13. Chapter Five CHARTER SCHOOL FINANCES AND FACILITIES
    (pp. 85-114)
    Cathy Krop

    This chapter discusses charter school funding, including the charter school funding model, charter school participation in categorical aid programs, private donations to charter schools, and charter school expenditures. In addition, the chapter describes charter school facilities including types of charter school facilities, how charter schools finance facilities, and facilities challenges. Finally, we examine other fiscal challenges facing charter schools. The analysis is based on the data from the chartering authority, charter school, and conventional public school surveys along with CBEDS and J-200 data.

    Conventional public schools in California generally receive funding through two means: (1) revenue limit funding, which is...

  14. Chapter Six ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENTS OF CHARTER AND CONVENTIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS
    (pp. 115-142)
    Laura Hamilton

    This chapter addresses several topics related to the instructional activities and environments of charter schools and their conventional public school counterparts. It deals with questions related to professional development for teachers, curriculum and instruction, student assessment, parent involvement, and student discipline. Because any effect of charter schools on the academic achievement of students who attend them is likely to occur in large part as a result of the teaching and learning environments in those schools, it is important to examine these environments to understand the extent to which students’ learning experiences in charter schools differ from those of students in...

  15. Chapter Seven STAFFING IN CHARTER AND CONVENTIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS
    (pp. 143-160)
    Cassandra Guarino

    Charter schools are allowed to diverge from standard district policies with respect to several issues involving the workforce. Statewide regulations regarding teacher qualifications are somewhat more relaxed for charter schools than for conventional public schools, although not all charter schools differ from their conventional school counterparts in this regard.¹ Charter school legislation allows for an even greater relaxation of regulations with regard to the certification and experience of school principals than it does for teachers. In addition, the legislation grants charter school principals the flexibility to employ, compensate, and dismiss teachers without having to submit to the intervention of a...

  16. Chapter Eight SPECIAL EDUCATION IN CHARTER AND CONVENTIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS
    (pp. 161-174)
    Cassandra Guarino and Derrick Chau

    Charter schools, although exempt from many state and local regulations, must still abide by federal regulations regarding the education of students with disabilities. A number of studies have indicated that it is a challenge for charter schools to serve special education students (Ahearn et al., 2001; Finn et al., 2000). This chapter explores a number of important issues relating to serving special education students in California’s charter schools.

    The public school system must identify and educate students with special needs by creating and implementing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for each of them. Furthermore, schools are urged to serve these...

  17. Chapter Nine CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
    (pp. 175-184)
    Ron Zimmer and Cassandra Guarino

    This study provides the most comprehensive evaluation of California charter schools to date by examining accessibility, student achievement, governance, and operation of charter schools. Below, we provide a brief summary of the findings from our four research areas. We also note existing challenges facing charter schools and provide recommendations.

    Often researchers, educators, and policymakers think of charter schools as a homogenous group. In asking questions about them, they often ask what the charter school effect is. However, our analysis suggests that it is impossible to define a single charter school effect.In fact, one of the most significant conclusions of...

  18. Appendix A RESEARCH METHODS
    (pp. 185-198)
  19. Appendix B CHARTER AND CONVENTIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOL COMPARISON METHODS
    (pp. 199-200)
  20. Appendix C ACADEMIC OUTCOMES
    (pp. 201-218)
  21. Appendix D SURVEYS ADMINISTERED FOR THE STUDY
    (pp. 219-272)
  22. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 273-280)