Americas charter schools serve a larger percentage of minority and low-income students than do the nations traditional public schools, according to a comprehensive new study of the growing charter movement.
Thats partly because charters remain a predominantly urban phenomenon, the researchers found, with charter schools three times as likely as regular public schools to be in located in a big city.
"One of driving forces behind charter schools has been parent demand for new options among groups that seemed to be less-well served by traditional schools," said author Robin Lake, director of the National Charter School Research Project at the University of Washingtons Evans School of Public Affairs.
"Theyre basically doing away with the notion of middle school," said Lake, "which is an appealing concept to some parents."
But national trends found in the study were punctuated by stark variations from state to state in nearly every category.
"This study makes clear that it is nearly impossible to generalize about charter schools as a national phenomenon," Hill said. "Charter schools are really a state and local policy tool that can be used well or badly."
In addition to compiling and analyzing data, the report also explores pressing issues such as measuring student achievement, replicating successful charter schools, handling charter school closures and making "apples-to-apples" comparisons in funding.
The report will be presented at a Nov. 21 policy luncheon at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.
The National Charter School Research Project was established at the University of Washingtons Evans School in fall 2004 with support from a consortium of foundations convened by the Philanthropy Roundtable.
Steven Goldsmith | EurekAlert!
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