Measuring Up



Wisconsin

Not scored

See a summary of the state’s charter law.

See additional observations about charters in the state.

What is the state of charter schools in Wisconsin?

GROWTH INDICATORS

 

 

Score


1. Public school share
 (2014–15)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter schools

245

12%

 

 


2. Public school student share
 (2014–15)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter school students

42,704

5%

 

 

3. Students by race and ethnicity (2013–14)

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

White

50%

74%

-24%

Black

27%

9%

18%

Hispanic

15%

10%

5%

Asian

5%

3%

2%

Other

3%

4%

-1%

Total minority

50%

26%

24%

 

4. Students in special populations (2013–14)

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

Free and reduced-price lunch status

54%

41%

13%

Special education status

N/A

N/A

N/A

English learner status

N/A

N/A

N/A

Total special student populations

54%

41%

13%

 

5. Schools by geographic distribution (2012–13)

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

City

40%

23%

17%

Suburb

15%

21%

-6%

Town

19%

19%

0%

Rural

26%

37%

-11%

Total nonsuburban

85%

79%

6%

 

6. Communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools (2014–15)

N/A

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

 

 

 

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

2

   
 

7. New public charter schools opened over the past five years  (2010–15)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2010–11

18

Average Annual Open Rate

10.4%

2011–12

39

2012–13

24

2013–14

24

2014–15

22

Total number

127

 

 

 

8. Public charter schools closed over the past five years (2009–14)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2009–10

17

Average Annual Closure Rate

7.3%

2010–11

11

2011–12

20

2012–13

17

2013–14

24

Total number

89

 

 

 
 

INNOVATION INDICATORS

 

 

Score

9. Percentage of charter schools with an identified special focus (2012–13)

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

 

 

 

No Excuses

1%

Total

48%

STEM

7%

Arts

3%

Classical

0.5%

Purposely diverse

0%

Single sex

0%

International/Foreign language

5%

Montessori/Waldorf

28%

Dropout/Expulsion recovery

4%

Military

0%

Vocational training

5%

Public policy/Citizenship

0%

 

QUALITY INDICATORS

 

 

Score

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

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in reading

 

 

 

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

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in math

 

 

 

12. Percentage point change in top categories in state accountability system (2012–14)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 2012-13

2013-14

Difference

Significantly Exceeds Expectations

9%

14%

5%

Exceeds Expectations

34%

31%

-3%

Total

43%

45%

2%

 

13. Percentage point change in bottom categories in state accountability system (2012–14)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 2012-13

2013-14

Difference

Meets Few Expectations

20%

12%

-8%

Fails to Meet Expectations

9%

11%

2%

Total

29%

23%

-6%

 

Items Reported But Not Scored

Startups versus conversions (2014–15)

 

Startups

Conversions

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools

89%

11%

 

 

 

Charter authorizers (2014–15)

 

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

99

222

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 (2013–14)

Number of virtual public charter school students

3,967

 

 

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

9%

 

 

Number of virtual public charter schools

8

 

 

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

3%

 

 

 

Health of the Movement Summary

Wisconsin enacted its charter public school law in 1993. In our most recent rankings of state charter school laws, it ranked #37 out of 43.

One of the primary contributors to the weakness of Wisconsin’s charter public school law is that it creates three types of charter public 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). The law provides insufficient accountability and inequitable funding to charters to all three types of charters.

A state’s charter public school movement had to meet three conditions to be scored and ranked in this year’s report. First, the movement had to serve at least 2 percent of the state’s public school students. Second, the state had to participate in CREDO’s National Charter School Study 2013 so that we had a measure of student academic growth data for its charter public schools in comparison with its traditional public schools. Third, the state had to have a state accountability system in place that categorized all public schools on the basis of performance in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Wisconsin’s movement did not meet at least one of these conditions, so we did not score and rank it in this year’s report.

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

  • In 2014-15, there were 245 charter public schools and 42,704 charter public school students in Wisconsin, constituting 12 percent of the state’s public schools and 5 percent of the state’s public school students, respectively.
  • However, only 23 percent of the state’s public charters actually have independence and autonomy (meaning they are independent charter schools or noninstrumentality charter schools).
  • In 2013-14, charter public schools in Wisconsin served higher percentages of racial and ethnic minority students (24 percentage points more) and free and reduced-price lunch students (13 percentage points more) than traditional public schools.
  • In 2012-13, 86 percent of the state’s public charters were located in nonsuburban areas as compared with 79 percent of traditional public schools.
  • In 2013-14, three communities in Wisconsin had more than 10 percent of public school students in charters.
  • Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, 127 new charter public schools opened in Wisconsin, a 10.4 percent average annual open rate.
  • Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, 89 charter public schools closed in Wisconsin, a 7.3 percent average annual closure rate.
  • In 2012-13, 48 percent of the state’s charter public schools were special-focus schools.
  • Between 2012-13 and 2013-14, the percentage of charter public schools performing in the top two categories of the state’s accountability system increased by 2 percentage points (from 43 percent to 45 percent).
  • Between 2012-13 and 2013-14, the percentage of charter public schools performing in the bottom two categories of the state’s accountability system decreased by 6 percentage points (from 29 percent to 23 percent).
  • During 2014-15, 89 percent of the state’s charter public schools were start-ups and 11 percent were conversions.
  • In 2014-15, local school districts were allowed to authorize in the state. In the Milwaukee area, other eligible authorizers included the City of Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Area Technical College, and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. As of 2014-15, 99 local school districts had authorized 222 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).
  • During 2013-14, eight full-time virtual charter public schools operated in Wisconsin, serving 3,967 students (9 percent of the state’s charter public school population).