Measuring Up



Colorado

TOTAL SCORE:
63 out of 116

Rank: 12 out of 26

See a summary of the state’s charter law.

See additional observations about charters in the state and recommendations to support the growth of high-quality charter schools.

What is the state of charter schools in Colorado?

GROWTH INDICATORS

 

 

Score


1. Public school share
 (2013–14)

9

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter schools

197

11%

 

 


2. Public school student share
 (2013–14)

9

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter school students

93,141

11%

 

 

3. Students by race and ethnicity (2012–13)

4

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

White

56%

56%

0%

Black

6%

5%

1%

Hispanic

31%

33%

-2%

Asian

4%

3%

1%

Other

4%

4%

0%

Total minority

45%

45%

0%

 

4. Students in special populations (2012–13)

2

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

Free and reduced-price lunch status

35%

42%

-7%

Special education status

14%

15%

-1%

English learner status

N/A

N/A

N/A

Total special student populations

49%

57%

-8%

 

5. Schools by geographic distribution (2011–12)

4

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

City

37%

29%

8%

Suburb

25%

26%

-1%

Town

8%

13%

-5%

Rural

29%

33%

-4%

Total nonsuburban

75%

74%

1%

 

6. Communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools (2012–13)

4

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

 

 

 

Number of communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools

13

   
 

7. New public charter schools opened over the past five years  (2009–14)

6

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2009–10

13

Average Annual Open Rate

7.5%

2010–11

14

2011–12

13

2012–13

12

2013–14

14

Total number

66

 

 

 

 

8. Public charter schools closed over the past five years (2008–13)

9

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2008–09

4

Average Annual Closure Rate

2%

2009–10

5

2010–11

2

2011–12

3

2012–13

3

Total number

17

 

 

 

 
 

INNOVATION INDICATORS

 

 

Score

9. Public charter schools reporting use of various innovative practices (2011–12)

4

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

 

 

 

Extended day (30 minutes or more each day compared to traditional public schools)

45

Average

24%

Extended year (10 or more days compared to traditional public schools)

36

Year-round calendar

5

Independent study

29

School-to-work

5

Higher education courses

21

 
 

QUALITY INDICATORS

 

 

Score

10. Additional days of learning in reading (2007–11)

8

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in reading

7

 

 

 

 

11. Additional days of learning in math (2007–11)

4

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in math

-7

 

 

 

Items Reported But Not Scored

Startups versus conversions (2012–13)

 

Startups

Conversions

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools

97%

3%

 

 

 

Public charter schools that are independent, associated with a CMO, or associated with an EMO (2010–11)

 

Number

Percentage

 

 

Independent

142

85%

 

 

Charter management organization

10

6%

 

 

Education management organization

15

9%

 

 

 

Charter authorizers (2013–14)

 

Number of authorizers

Number of charter schools

Average number of charters per authorizer

Percentage of the state’s public charters authorized by this type of authorizer

Local education agency

45

167

4

85%

State education agency

-

-

-

-

Independent charter board

1

30

30

15%

Noneducational government entity

-

-

-

-

Higher education institution

-

-

-

-

Nonprofit

-

-

-

-

 

Virtual public charter schools and students (2012–13)

Number of virtual public charter school students

11,226

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter school student population enrolled
in virtual charter schools

13%

 

 

Number of virtual public charter schools

6

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools that are virtual charter schools

3%

 

 

 

Health of the Movement Summary

Colorado’s charter school movement ranked #12 out of 26, scoring 63 points out of 116.

Colorado scored relatively well on the following indicators:

  • Eleven percent of the state’s public schools were charters in 2013–14.
  • Eleven percent of the state’s public school students were charter students in 2013–14.
  • Thirteen communities in Colorado had more than 10 percent of their public school students in charters in 2012–13.
  • On average, public charter school students exhibited higher academic growth in reading when compared to traditional public school students between 2007–08 and 2010–11 (seven additional days).

Colorado scored relatively low on the following indicators:

  • The state’s public charter schools served lower percentages of free and reduced-price lunch students and special education students when compared with traditional public schools in 2012–13 (7 percentage points less and 1 percentage point less, respectively).
  • On average, public charter school students exhibited lower academic growth in math when compared with traditional public school students between 2007–08 and 2010–11 (seven fewer days). More recent data from the Colorado Department of Education shows that charter school academic growth in math is on an upward trajectory, though.1

In addition to the above points, we also offer the following observations about the movement in Colorado:

  • The state’s public charter schools served an identical percentage of racial and ethnic minority students when compared with traditional public schools in 2012–13.
  • Seventy-five percent of the state’s public charters were located in nonsuburban areas in 2011–12 as compared to 74 percent of traditional public schools.
  • Sixty-six public charters opened in Colorado between 2009–10 and 2013–14, a 7.5 percent average annual open rate.
  • Seventeen public charter schools closed in Colorado between 2008–09 and 2012–13, a 2 percent average annual closure rate.
  • An average of 24 percent of the state’s public charter schools reported using one of the six innovative practices that we tracked in 2011–12.
  • Ninety-seven percent of the state’s public charter schools were startups, and 3 percent were conversions during 2012–13.
  • All public charter schools in Colorado must be organized as nonprofits. In 2010–11, 85 percent of these schools were independently managed, 6 percent were associated with a nonprofit charter management organization, and 9 percent were associated with a for-profit educational management organization.
  • As of 2013-14, 45 local school boards had authorized 167 public charter schools (85 percent of the state’s total number of public charters), and the state’s independent charter board had authorized 30 public charter schools (15 percent).
  • There were six virtual public charter schools in Colorado in 2012–13, serving 11,226 students (13 percent of the state’s public charter school population).

1Colorado Department of Education, The State of Charter Schools, Author: Denver, CO, April 2013.

Recommendations

Colorado has sizable populations of public charter schools and public charter school students. Such students, on average, are performing better than their peers in traditional public schools in reading but not math, although it is important to note that the most recent student academic growth data available are from 2010–11.

To better support the growth of high-quality public charter schools, we recommend that the state change its law to enhance its funding and facilities support to charters. We also encourage the state to explore why public charter schools are serving a lower percentage of free and reduced-price lunch students (such as the lack of kitchen spaces in buildings) than traditional public schools and take steps to remedy these issues.