Survey Finds Charter School Teachers Engaged More Students During Pandemic

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The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), an independent research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, recently released findings based on the 2020-21 National Teacher and Principal Survey. The survey asked questions about how schools responded to the pandemic and among those surveyed were more than 68,000 public school teachers from district and charter schools.

Based on what we’ve seen from other surveys and our own research, it’s not surprising to see that in the IES survey, charter school teachers reported more engagement with their students than teachers in district schools.

Charter School Teachers Were More Engaged During the Pandemic

Teachers in charter schools reported interacting with their students at higher rates than teachers in district schools. Charter school teachers were more likely to teach lessons in real time, provide support to small groups, schedule one-on-one instruction, and hold both scheduled and unscheduled “office hours.”

Charter School Teachers Had More Real-Time Interactions with Students

Forty percent of charter school teachers reported having real-time interactions with more than 75% of their students during the pandemic, compared to 32% of teachers in district schools. Similarly, charter school teachers were less likely to report not having any real-time interaction with their students.

Charter School Teachers Felt Supported

Charter school teachers were more likely to respond that they felt supported and well-equipped to be effective as a teacher during the pandemic. With growing reports of teacher dissatisfaction, this finding in particular offers hope that there are solutions to make teaching a more sustainable career.

Once again, we see that the charter school model offers school leaders and teachers the ability to pivot quickly when challenges arise, so it’s no surprise that families are looking to charter schools at record-high rates.

What can we do with this information? Policymakers can support legislation and funding that helps communities meet the growing demand for charter schools through programs like the federal Charter Schools Program—and parents can continue to voice their support for the program. School and district leaders should look to the charter model to see how they can improve their ability to react. And, teachers can actively participate in the improvement process for their school, as well as look for job opportunities at the charter school that fits them best.


Drew Jacobs is the senior director of research, policy, and evaluation at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.