Washington, D.C. Persistently low-achieving public schools around the country have received $5.8 billion from the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, in addition to districts and state funds, and other supplementary federal funds. Despite all of these sources of funding, most of the schools receiving them have failed to make a dramatic difference in improving student achievement. However, according to a new report jointly released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the Center on School Turnaround, autonomy provided by state charter laws can be better leveraged to improve school turnaround efforts.
The report, Chartering Turnaround: Leveraging Public Charter School Autonomy to Address Failure, provides case studies of three charter management organizations (CMOs) that have successfully restarted low-achieving public schools, adding a valuable component to the limited body of research that exists about turnaround models. The report highlights the freedoms that benefit poor-performing schools most significantly, including: the autonomy to hire, retain and reward staff; the ability adjust the length of school year, academic program and curriculum; and, the option to develop tailored approaches for finances and facilities.
"The work of turning around a failing school is tremendously challenging, but as this report shows, there are high-quality CMOs that are up to the task. Leveraging the broad autonomy charter schools have around staffing, curriculum and operations makes sense if we want to see greater outcomes from turnarounds. We shouldnt expect large gains if we arent willing to make dramatic changes in how schools are run," said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
The report profiles the work of three CMOs that restarted district-run public schools: Green Dot Public Schools, LEAD Public Schools, and Mastery Charter Schools.
"High quality charter organizations have demonstrated that they can replicate their successes in the challenging setting of turning around an existing low-achieving school. The National Alliance therefore recommends that any federal funds designated for school improvement be made available to CMOs for restarting failing schools. It also recommends that these funds are made available for replicating and expanding high-quality charter schools," Rees added. "This practice will grant more students access to higher performing schools which is the ultimate goal of school turnaround."
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, manyresearch studieshavefound 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 on 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 www.publiccharters.org.