Inside Charter Schools: Unlocking Doors to Student Success

This February 2011 report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington Bothell in Seattle finds that charter schools are using autonomy as a powerful tool for innovation and student achievement, but tight, unstable budgets and “overwhelming administrative demands are powerful forces pulling charter schools back to traditional practice.”

CRPE says this report offers great reason for optimism that charter schools are well positioned to heed the call for public schools to innovate. But the statement said the report also "cautions that traditional regulatory structures and weaknesses in capacity must be addressed if they are to fully meet the challenge of innovation.”

The six-state, four-year study, Inside Charter Schools: Unlocking Doors to Student Success, was drawn from hundreds of surveys of charter schools and district schools, 255 interviews, and visits to a cross-section of 24 charter schools. The study presents key findings and recommendations for policymakers about how best to maximize the value of autonomy. It is the final report in a series of studies produced by the Inside Charter Schools initiative, part of the National Charter School Research Project.