On Top of the World: Public Charter Schools and International Benchmarking, 2013-2014

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools believes a key way to make our schools globally competitive is by allowing schools to adopt innovative practices that lead to higher achievement. One of the best ways to encourage innovation is by giving schools the flexibility and autonomy they need to explore new educational models. In 2013, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which administers the respected Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), published an analysis of PISA 2012 results that found a school’s governance structure—namely, the autonomy to make schoollevel decisions about a wide range of operations, combined with accountability for those decisions— affects student achievement. Further, the OECD reported that educational systems that empowered school leaders to allocate resources and develop curricula to serve students’ needs showed higher student performance on PISA 2012 than more bureaucratic school systems, regardless of differing income levels of the students in the systems.1 The school governance structure praised by the OECD is very similar to the public charter school model. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are uniquely autonomous and allowed the freedom to be innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Due to this freedom, they are delivering great academic results for students and are well positioned to lead educational reform efforts—both in the United States and abroad.