What is the state of charter schools in Washington?
Washington’s relatively new law allows multiple authorizers via local school districts and a new statewide authorizer, has strong quality control components, gives operational autonomy to public charter schools, and provides equitable operational funding to public charter schools. The two major weaknesses of the law include a cap of 40 public charter schools during the initial five years that the law is in effect and a relatively small number of provisions for supporting charters’ facilities needs.
A state’s public charter school movement had to meet two conditions to be scored and ranked in this year’s report. First, the movement had to serve at least 1 percent of the state’s public school students. Second, the state had to participate in the Center for Research on Education Outcomes’ (CREDO) 2013 National Charter School Study so that we had a measure of student academic growth data for its public charter schools in comparison to its traditional public schools. Since Washington just enacted its public charter school law in 2012, its charter school movement did not meet either condition. Therefore, we did not score and rank Washington’s public charter school movement in this year’s report.
Washington’s first charter school opened in fall 2014. Several more public charter schools are expected to open in fall 2015.