Measuring Up



Wisconsin

Not scored

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 Wisconsin?

GROWTH INDICATORS

 

 

Score


1. Public school share
 (2013–14)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter schools

245

11%

 

 


2. Public school student share
 (2013–14)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter school students

43,835

5%

 

 

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

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

White

51%

74%

-23%

Black

25%

9%

16%

Hispanic

16%

10%

6%

Asian

6%

4%

2%

Other

3%

4%

-1%

Total minority

50%

27%

23%

 

4. Students in special populations (2012–13)

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

Free and reduced-price lunch status

52%

41%

11%

Special education status

7%

6%

1%

English learner status

12%

14%

-2%

Total special student populations

71%

61%

10%

 

5. Schools by geographic distribution (2011–12)

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

City

44%

21%

23%

Suburb

14%

18%

-4%

Town

17%

18%

-1%

Rural

25%

42%

-17%

Total nonsuburban

86%

82%

4%

 

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

N/A

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

 

 

 

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

4

 

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

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2009–10

5

Average Annual Open Rate

9.6%

2010–11

17

2011–12

39

2012–13

23

2013–14

24

Total number

108

 

 

 

 

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

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2008–09

19

Average Annual Closure Rate

7.2%

2009–10

17

2010–11

11

2011–12

16

2012–13

17

Total number

80

 

 

 

 
 

INNOVATION INDICATORS

 

 

Score

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

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

 

 

 

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

35

Average

27%

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

31

Year-round calendar

15

Independent study

40

School-to-work

25

Higher education courses

15

 
 

QUALITY INDICATORS

 

 

Score

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

N/A

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in reading

 

 

 

 

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

N/A

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in math

 

 

 

Items Reported But Not Scored

Startups versus conversions (2012–13)

 

Startups

Conversions

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools

86%

14%

 

 

 

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

 

Number

Percentage

 

 

Independent

202

98%

 

 

Charter management organization

0

0%

 

 

Education management organization

4

2%

 

 

 

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

101

223

2

91%

State education agency

Independent charter board

Noneducational government entity

1

10

10

4%

Higher education institution

2

13

7

5%

Nonprofit

 

Virtual public charter schools and students (2012–13)

Number of virtual public charter school students

6,146

 

 

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

13%

 

 

Number of virtual public charter schools

29

 

 

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

12%

 

 

 

Health of the Movement Summary

One of the primary contributors to the public charter school law’s weakness in Wisconsin is that it creates three types of public charter schools. The first two types—“independent charter schools” and “noninstrumentality charter schools”—actually have independence and autonomy. The City of Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside authorized independent charter schools. Noninstrumentality charter schools are authorized by local school districts, and their staff members are employees at the school (not the district). The third type—“instrumentality charter schools”—has little independence and autonomy. Instrumentality charter schools are authorized by local school districts, and their staff members are employees at the district (not the school). For all three types of charters, the law provides insufficient accountability and inequitable funding to charters.

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. While Wisconsin’s movement met the first condition, Wisconsin was not a partner state in CREDO’s 2013 study. Therefore, we did not score and rank Wisconsin’s public charter school movement in this year’s report.

However, we provided the data we were able to gather below. Based on this information, we offer the following observations:

  • In 2013–14, there were 245 public charter schools and 43,835 public charter school students in Wisconsin, constituting 11 percent of the state’s public schools and 5 percent of the state’s public school students, respectively.
  • However, only 20 percent of the state’s public charters actually have independence and autonomy (meaning they are independent charter schools or noninstrumentality charter schools).
  • In 2012–13, public charter schools in Wisconsin served higher percentages of racial and ethnic minority students (23 percentage points more) and students from special populations (10 percentage points more) than traditional public schools.
  • Eighty-six percent of the state’s public charters were located in nonsuburban areas in 2011–12 as compared with 82 percent of traditional public schools.
  • There were four communities in Wisconsin with more than 10 percent of public school students in charters in 2012–13.
  • One hundred eight new public charter schools opened in Wisconsin between 2009–10 and 2013–14, a 9.6 percent average annual open rate.
  • Eighty public charter schools closed in Wisconsin between 2008–09 and 2012–13, a 7.2 percent average annual closure rate.
  • An average of 27 percent of the state’s public charter schools reported using one of the six innovative practices that we tracked in 2011–12.
  • Eighty-six percent of the state’s public charter schools were startups, and 14 percent were conversions during 2012–13.
  • In 2010–11, 98 percent of the state’s public charter schools were independently managed, and 2 percent are associated with a for-profit educational management organization. No charters are associated with a nonprofit charter management organization.
  • In 2013–14, local school districts were allowed to authorize in the state. In Milwaukee, other eligible authorizers included the City of Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the Milwaukee Area Technical College. In Racine, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside may authorize one school. As of 2013–14, 101 local school districts had authorized 223 public charters (91 percent of the state’s public charters), two higher education authorizers had authorized 13 public charters (5 percent), and one noneducational governmental entity had authorized 10 public charters (4 percent).
  • There were 29 virtual public charter schools in Wisconsin during 2012–13 serving 6,146 students (13 percent of the state’s public charter school population).

Recommendations

While Wisconsin has a notable number of public charter schools, only 20 percent of the state’s public charters actually have independence and autonomy. To better support the growth of high-quality public charter schools, we encourage the state to change its law to create additional authorizing options throughout the state, strengthen accountability, increase operational autonomy, and ensure equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities.