Replicating High Quality Charter Schools

The rhetoric about charter schools is wildly disconnected from the reality.  There are some lousy ones, some average ones, and some outstanding ones.  The key takeaway, however, is that the outstanding ones are not random and some jurisdictions (Massachusetts and New York City for instance) have done a better job curating quality than other places. So in the policy community the question is not whether or not to have charter schools but instead how to use public policy to encourage replication and expansion of the best ones. NACSA with a new brief on that issue.

3 Replies to “Replicating High Quality Charter Schools”

  1. I’m not sure that is the right policy question, Andy. I think part of the quality problem has been the rush to replicate/expand. That’s why the NACSA brief is a little confusing. What’s wrong with having a high-quality charter school that’s simply one school? Doesn’t the expand/replicate approach inherently discriminate against independently operated charters and merely favor the KIPPs of the world?

  2. That’s a great point bschaeffer. Two thoughts. First, as I tried to do in the “smart caps” paper and idea,

    which a few states have innovated with now, there should be a balance in the policy to ensure that one-offs are not discriminated against. As the data show CMO doesn’t inherently equal quality any more than one-off means low-quality. And, when a group of educators want to create a school in one place to better serve some kids that’s for the good and there should be room for that in policy – in my view – and also not pressure that expansion is the only path.

    But, second, that said, in terms of rapidly increasing the number of high-quality seats in places that need them desperately today, the networks bring more to the table. Yes, 100 great new schools is 100 great schools regardless of whether they are CMOS or one-offs but in practice the CMOS can get there faster so if you can encourage the good ones there is a pragmatic attraction to that approach.

  3. Thanks, Andy. I think we’re likely to disagree on some of the fundamental ideas about the role of charters, but I will take a look at the “smart caps” paper.

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