The Promise of Citywide Charter Strategies

John Kania, Jeff Kutash, Julie Obbard and Robert Albright

Given this steady growth of the charter school population, and its concentration in cities, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) anticipated a need for correspondent growth and change of the network of charter support organizations (CSOs). NAPCS works closely with CSOs who provide advocacy and technical support services to charter schools.  Most of these organizations are state-based associations and resource centers seeking to serve all the public charter schools in a state.  However, in recent years, consistent with the growth of charter schools in cities, several city-based CSOs have been created. As these city-based support organizations are becoming more prolific, NAPCS sought to examine the potential for citywide charter strategies as a key leverage point for increasing charter school quality, and ultimately contributing to an overall improvement in edu­cational outcomes in a city.  The Alliance partnered with FSG, a leading nonprofit consulting and research firm, to study existing city support and develop recommendations for how to increase support for public charter schools in cities across the nation. This study finds that city-based strategies have the potential to create a shared focus on high-quality schools and improve charter sector coordination. These city-based strategies can be effective at streamlining the path to improving charter school quality and ultimately lead to improved student achievement for the children we serve.