Learn About Charter Schools


A report, published January 20, 2004 of the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office of the California State Legislature. (summary of key points, with emphasis added in bold type) Web references:



Summary (p. 35): Charter schools are now in their eleventh year of operation in California. Two statewide evaluations of charter schools in California have concluded that they are meeting original legislative intent—expanding families' choices, encouraging parental involvement, increasing teacher satisfaction, and raising academic achievement, particularly for certain groups of disadvantaged students.

Executive Summary (p. 3): Since they first opened their doors in fall 1993, charter schools in California have grown in number and steadily increased enrollment. Over the last decade, the state has funded two comprehensive charter school evaluations—the findings of which were released in 1997 and 2003. Both evaluations concluded that charter schools are a viable reform strategy—expanding families' choices, encouraging parental involvement, increasing teacher satisfaction, enhancing principals' control over school-site decision making, and broadening the curriculum without sacrificing time spent on core subjects. The most recent evaluation deemed charter schools cost-effective—finding that charter schools achieve academic results similar to those of traditional public schools even though they obtain significantly less state and federal categorical funding.

Overall, RAND Deems Charter Schools Cost-Effective. . . . RAND also found that charter school teachers and administrators are less experienced, but they feel more involved in decision making and have a greater sense of ownership of their classrooms and school site. Taken together, RAND's findings suggest that charter schools generally are viable, cost-effective reform strategies for improving academic achievement and serving certain students whose families desire additional school options. (p. 15)

Cap No Longer Needed. Charter schools remain neither new (they have operated in California for ten years) nor untested (the state has conducted two comprehensive charter school evaluations). Both statewide evaluations concluded that charter schools were viable educational reforms. Neither evaluation uncovered any alarming finding to warrant slower growth or continuation of the growth cap. Indeed, as discussed in detail earlier in this report, RAND's recent evaluation concluded that charter schools were attaining achievement results comparable to those of other public schools despite facing considerable fiscal and facility challenges. As a result, we are not aware of any analytical basis for continuing to cap the annual growth in charter schools. (p. 20)

Home :: News & Editorials :: Learn About Charter Schools :: Get Involved :: About WCSRC :: Contact Us