Success for English Learners in Charter Schools

This study explores trends in English Learner (EL) student enrollments and academic outcomes in California’s charter schools. Our data analyses included the use of publicly available data to review public charter school student performance with that of traditional school performance. To better understand best practices with English Learner students, we interviewed numerous leaders of charter schools that have high EL populations and strong academic outcomes with their EL student populations. In sum, our interviews with school leaders and data analysis have supported two major findings:

  1. Across several data sources and over several years, EL student performance is higher at charter schools. While some of the differences were modest, the consistency of this finding was striking.
  2. In general, EL enrollments are lower at charter schools than at comparable traditional public schools. However, different disaggregations (by charter type, urban-rural, grade level and region) show varying sizes in the gap (with the gap closed in some instances).