New Report Finds Charter Schools Effectively Serving Over-Age and Under-Credited Students

Offers examples of successes and key policy recommendations to better serve these youth

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Our Piece of the Pie, and SIATech released a new report examining how public charter schools are serving students who have fallen behind in school or dropped out altogether (often called over-age, under-credited students).


Over-Age, Under-Credited Students and Public Charter Schools: An Exploration of Successes, Strategies, and Opportunities for Expansion, authored by Kathryn Rock, Bob Rath, Linda Dawson, and Ernie Silva, looks at the best practices of five charter schools that are successfully re-engaging OU students and makes recommendations to make it easier for charters and traditional public schools to bring this important student population back to school.


“Too often this population of students is left to fend for themselves, unable to find a path that will help prepare them for life,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance. “Public charter schools are increasingly stepping up to the plate and using their autonomy and flexibility to help these students succeed.”


“Over-age, under-credited youth must be at the center of national, state, and local education reform efforts,” said Bob Rath, president and CEO of Our Piece of the Pie (OPP). “OPP has been working with struggling high school students for more than ten years and has learned that, with the proper support systems, these students can, and will succeed – with an extraordinary impact.”


SIATech Superintendent and report author Dr. Linda Dawson also added, “SIATech schools have been quietly and effectively serving over-age and under-credited students for more than 15 years. It takes ‘grit’ to do this work. It takes strong relationships between teachers and students to get students back in school and back on-track to graduation. Our charter schools strive to connect academics and classroom learning with what each student wants for the future. As small learning communities, we are able to make that happen.”


In addition to the case studies highlighted, the report also highlights the significant impact re-engaging this student population could have on local economies and communities. Each dropout imposes an estimated economic burden of $258,240 and a social burden of $755,900 over the course of his or her lifetime.


To combat this economic and social burden, the authors make several key recommendations for policymakers to consider to better serve the needs of over-age and under-credited students, such as:

  • Understanding the student population and what works through better data collection;
  • Facilitating partnerships for comprehensive services – such as health services – that have proven successful in helping these students stay in school and succeed;
  • Providing equitable funding so that schools have access to the resources they need to help students overcome challenges they face; and
  • Allowing alternative accountability measures – such as measuring concept mastery rather than seat time – that take into account the progress and achievement of students who have fallen behind.


“We hope that policymakers across the country will take a look at this report, visit one of the schools highlighted in this report, and consider the ways they can take action to better serve these students,” continued Rees. “We have a responsibility to ensure these students do not slip through the cracks and that we are giving them every opportunity we can to overcome adversity and benefit from a high-quality education.”


Click here to read Over-Age, Under-Credited Students and Public Charter Schools: An Exploration of Successes, Strategies, and Opportunities for Expansion.


About Public Charter Schools


Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, all but one independent research study has found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center for Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.


About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools


The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at


About Our Piece of the Pie


Our Piece of the Pie (OPP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping 14 to 24 year-old urban youth become economically independent adults. OPP’s unique model is centered around the personal, intense and consistent relationship developed between each youth and a caring, committed and proactive adult staff member. That relationship helps participants identify and overcome barriers, access support services and programs, and achieve the goals of high school graduation, a college degree and/or vocational certification and rewarding post-education employment. Founded in 1975, OPP provided high school, community college and community-based programs to 850 young people in five Connecticut communities last year. For more information, please visit


About SIATech


The School for Integrated Academics and Technologies (SIATech®) is an award-winning dropout recovery program. SIATech and MYcroSchool campuses are fully accredited public charter high schools in Arkansas, California, and Florida that operate in partnership with the federal Job Corps and Workforce Investment Act programs. The schools serve low-income, previously out-of-school youth. SIATech excels at identifying student strengths and individualizing instruction to meet each student’s needs and goals. The school’s safe and caring setting enables students to take charge of their learning and obtain the tools they need for lifetime success, whether it is at their chosen career or further education. More than 13,000 over-age, under-credited students have graduated from SIATech and MYcroSchool’s campuses.

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