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Charter Schools « Center on Educational Governance (CEG)

Charter Schools

Charter Schools Overview

Charter schools are public schools that operate independently of local school districts in exchange for achieving specific goals set forth in their educational charters. Developers of charter schools, usually teachers, parents or community members, are given the flexibility to decide their own educational program and how to organize and manage the school. Charter school authorizers – which include a variety of local and state school boards as well as special-purpose boards and commissions – are vested with the responsibility for approving new charter petitions and holding charter schools accountable for performance. CEG’s research also has focused on expanding measures of charter school performance to include academic measures, financial measures and surveys of stakeholder satisfaction as well.

Our work in this area focuses on the governance, management and performance of charter schools. Studies include research in schools and charter management organizations, as well as how charter school authorizers carry out their responsibilities in approving, monitoring and renewing or revoking charter school petitions. CEG also has examined the issue of charter school performance and accountability.

Project Summaries


USC School Performance Dashboard (formerly CSI-USC)

(August 2003 to present)
In the spring of each year, we release an annual report on the performance of charter schools in California. The report assesses performance in terms of both academic and financial measures. Beginning with the third annual report, data are reported for individual charter schools, as well as statewide with comparisons of charter and non-charter public schools.

CSI-USC 2010
CSI-USC 2009
CSI-USC 2008
CSI-USC 2007

USC School Performance Dashboard was launched to the public, allowing users to compare the performance of individual charter schools over time and groups of charters to one another. The USC School Performance Dashboard offers a comprehensive, online database that rates every charter school in California on 12 indicators of performance.

Please click here to access USC School Performance Dashboard

Funding Source: Ahmanson Foundation, Haynes Foundation, Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Parsons Foundation, Weingart Foundation, William E. Siart, Trustee, University of Southern California.

The Center on Educational Governance is working to develop performance indicators for charter schools in Louisiana. The indicators are currently under development, in cooperation with state and local stakeholders, and will be piloted in 2011 with charter schools in New Orleans.

Funding Source: Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, Tulane University.


Stakeholder Satisfaction Surveys

December 2005 – Present
The Center on Educational Governance has developed online stakeholder satisfaction surveys to assist schools in assessing their performance and in benchmarking their performance against other similar schools. The three surveys, which are available on a fee-for-service basis, assess performance from the perspectives of parents, students and staff.

Survey results are useful as a school management and accountability tool. The results also offer useful information for the school accreditation and the charter school renewal processes.

Please click here to learn how your school can participate in SSS-USC.

Funding Source: Ahmanson Foundation, Weingart Foundation, William B. Siart, Trustee, University of Southern California.


National Evaluation of Charter Schools and the Federal Charter Schools Program

October 2009 – September 2011
The Center on Educational Governance, in collaboration with WestEd (prime), Child Trends and Policy Studies Associates, Inc., was awarded a five-year grant by the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of charter schools. The evaluation has four core objectives: 1) describe the characteristics and conditions of the charter school movement nationwide2) document contributions and the impact of the federal role in supporting charter schools; 3) understand policy conditions, management structures, and instructional practices associated with successful versus unsuccessful charter schools; and 4) describe achievement results for charter schools and students nationally.

To achieve these objectives, CEG is conducting a comprehensive, systematic review of the charter school research literature over the last decade from 2000-2010.

Funding Source: U.S. Department of Education.


Charter Management Organizations: A National Study of Scale-Up and Strategic Planning

October 2008 – September 2010
The Center on Educational Governance studied CMO scale-up and strategic planning. CMOs are nonprofit entities that oversee a network of charter schools and that 1) have a common, identifiable mission or instructional design across all schools; 2) have a home office/unified management team that provides significant, ongoing administrative support to charter schools; and 3) manage only classroom-based sites.

The study aimed to include all CMOs nationwide that operate at least 3 school campuses and have established plans to scale-up in the future (about 35 CMOs). Study methods included in-depth interviews with the CMO founder(s) and other members of the administrative team (2-3 interviews per CMO). Interview questions covered factors that influence scale-up, from finance and governance/management strategies to public policies at the federal, state and local levels.

Funding Source: U.S. Department of Education.


The National Resource Center on Charter School Finance and Governance

October 2006 – September 2010
Emerging research suggests that most charter schools that fail are forced to close for non-academic reasons, most often because of organizational mismanagement and financial difficulties. The National Resource Center on Charter School Finance and Governance provides an array of information to help policy makers, charter school authorizers and operators build and support high-performing charter schools.  The NRC Web site contains an information clearinghouse; promising practices related to finance and governance; state policy guides; and tools and resources to help the charter school community assess the financial strength and governance capacity of charter schools.

Please visit us at www.CharterResource.org, for further resources, tools and publications on charter school finance and governance.

Funding Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement, Charter Schools Program.


USC’s Compendium of Promising Practices: Innovations in Charter Schools

January 2005 – September 2010
The Center on Educational Governance at USC offers a Web-based compendium of promising practices. Each promising practice profile provides information about the implementation and impact of the strategy. Promising practice profiles are in two areas: educational reform and school governance. The goal of the compendium is to offer evidence-based strategies for improving the quality and sustainability of all public schools, both charter and district-run.

Please click here to access the Compendium of Promising Practices.

Funding Source: Ahmanson Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, Weingart Foundation.


Supporting the Creation of Charter Schools: Using Cross-Sectoral Alliances to Enhance Capacity

October 2001 – December 2004
In this national study, the Center on Educational Governance conducted site visits to 22 charter schools in a sample of 11 states to examine how new-start charter schools use public-private partnerships to enhance capacity. Charter schools in the study partnered with a wide variety of public organizations, nonprofit groups, and for-profit businesses to enhance everything from their facilities to the curriculum and after-school services offered to students. The study also examined the factors that motivated organizations to develop strategic alliances, and the conditions that supported or impeded such alliances.

Funding Source: Ahmanson Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, US Department of Education.


Pockets of Excellence: Organizing for Literacy Achievement

September 2000 – August 2001
The purpose of the Pockets of Excellence study was to identify Los Angeles Unified School District schools that showed improvement over a two-year period in reading, and to map out their successful literacy programs and the organizational and management strategies that supported them. The purposeful sample included two district-run schools, two site-based managed schools and two charter schools.

Funding Source: Center on Urban Education, University of Southern California.


Innovations in Charter Schools: Impact on Student Achievement

September 1999 – March 2002
This study examined the implementation and impact of innovations aimed at improving elementary school reading instruction in six Los Angeles-area charter schools. Innovations in management structures, such as decision-making teams and school-based councils, and in organizational processes, such as novel professional development and parent involvement, were examined. Results of the study provide information useful to both charter and non-charter schools in their attempts to improve student learning and achievement in the area of reading.

Funding Source: Haynes Foundation.


Los Angeles Unified School District Charter Schools Evaluation

December 1996 – 2000
The Center on Educational Governance collaborated with WestEd on the evaluation of 14 Los Angeles area charter schools, 5 of which were up for renewal. Study methods included comparing student achievement at charter schools to achievement at similar non-charter public schools. Organizational and management strategies were also examined. Parent satisfaction/involvement with charter schools was assessed.

Funding Source: Los Angeles Unified School District.


Focusing on Charter Schools: Lessons to be Learned

May 1996 – March 1998
This study investigated the early stages of charter school development in three states — California, Massachusetts and Minnesota. Using focus groups in each state, founders and directors from a total of seventeen charter schools were brought together to consider issues around leadership and the creation of learning communities —faculty recruitment and staffing, professional development, and school committees and grade-level teams.

Funding Source: Danforth Foundation.

Books and Book Chapters

 Brewer, D., Hentschke, G., (2009). An international perspective on publicly-financed, privately-operated schools, in Mark Berends (ed.) Handbook of Research on School Choice, New York, NY, Routledge, (227-246).

Farrell, C., Nayfack, M. B., Smith, J., Wohlstetter, P., Wong, A., (2009). Scaling up charter management organizations eight key lessons for success. California:  National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance.

Smith, J., Kuzin, C.A., De Pedro, K., & Wohlstetter, P. (2009). Family engagement in education, seven principles for success. California:  National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance.

Gill, B., Timpane, P. M., Ross, K. E., Brewer, D. J., & Booker, K. (2007). Rhetoric versus reality: What we know and what we need to know about vouchers and charter schools (MR-1118). Santa Monica, CA: RAND.

Smith, J., Wohlstetter, P., & Brewer, D. J. (2007). Under new management: Are charter schools making the most of new governance options? In R. J. Lake (Ed.), Hopes, fears, & reality: A balanced look at American charter schools in 2007 (17-28). Seattle, WA: University of Washington, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, Center on Reinventing Public Education.

Wohlstetter, P., Smith, J., Malloy, C. L., & Hentschke, G. C. (2005). Charter school partnerships: 8 key lessons for success. Los Angeles, CA: Center on Educational Governance, University of Southern California.

Ziebarth, T., & Wohlstetter, P. (2005). Charters as a “school turnaround” strategy. In R. J. Lake & P. T. Hill (Eds.), Hopes, fears, & reality: A balanced look at American charter schools in 2005 (53-62). Seattle, WA: University of Washington, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, Center on Reinventing Public Education.

Bulkley, K. E., & Wohlstetter, P. (Eds.). (2004). Taking account of charter schools: What’s happened and what’s next? New York: Teachers College Press.

Deal, T. E., & Hentschke, G. C. (2004). Adventures of charter school creators: Leading from the ground up. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Zimmer, R., Buddin, R., Chau, D., Daley, G. A., Gill, B., Guarino, C. M., Hamilton, L. S., Krop, C., McCaffrey, D. F., Sandler, M., & Brewer, D. J. (2003). Charter school operations and performance: Evidence from California (MR-1700). Santa Monica, CA: RAND.

Wohlstetter, P., Griffin, N., & Chau, D. (2002). Charter schools in California: A bruising campaign for public school choice. In S. Vergari (Ed.), The charter school landscape: Politics, policies, and prospects (32-53). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.


Journal Articles

Smith, J., Wohlstetter, P., Farrell, C. & Nayfack, M. (2011). Beyond Ideological Warfare: The Maturation of Research on Charter Schools. Journal of School Choice, 5 (4), 444-507.

Wohlstetter, P., Smith, J., Farrell, C., Hentschke, G. C., & Hirman, J. (2011). How funding shapes the growth of charter management organizations: Is the tail wagging the dog? Journal of Education Finance, 37(2), 150-174.

Smith, J., Kuzin, C. A., De Pedro, K., & Wohlstetter, P. (2011). Parent involvement in urban charter schools: New strategies for increasing participation. The School Community Journal, 21(1), 71-94.

Hentschke, G., Wohlstetter, P., Hirman, J., & Zeehandelaar, D. (2011). ‘Using
state-wide multiple measures for school leadership and management: costs incurred vs. benefits gained
‘, School Leadership & Mangement, 31(1), 21-34.

Brown, R.S., Wohlstetter, P., & Liu, S. (2008). Developing an Indicator System for Schools of Choice: A Balanced Scorecard Approach. Journal of School Choice, 2(4), 392-414.

Wohlstetter, P., Nayfack, M. B., & Mora-Flores, E. (2008). Charter schools and “customer” satisfaction: Lessons from field testing a parent survey. Journal of School Choice, 2(1), 66-84

Smith, J., & Wohlstetter, P. (2006). Understanding the different faces of partnering: A typology of public-private partnerships. School Leadership& Management, 26(3), 249-268.

Wohlstetter, P., & Smith, J. (2006). Improving schools through partnerships: Learning from charter schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(6), 464-467.

Wohlstetter, P., Smith, J., & Malloy, C. L. (2005). Strategic alliances in action: Toward a theory of evolution. Policy Studies Journal, 33(3), 419-442.

Wohlstetter, P., Malloy, C. L., Hentschke, G. C., & Smith, J. (2004). Improving service delivery in education through collaboration: An exploratory study in the role of cross-sectoral alliances in the development and support of charter schools. Social Science Quarterly, 85(5), 1078-1096.

Wohlstetter, P., Malloy, C. L., Smith, J., & Hentschke, G. C. (2004). Incentives for charter schools: Building school capacity through cross-sectoral alliances. Educational Administration Quarterly, 40(3), 321-365.

Malloy, C. L., & Wohlstetter, P. (2003). Working conditions in charter schools: What’s the appeal for teachers? Education and Urban Society, 35(2), 219-241.

Griffin, N., & Wohlstetter, P. (2001). Building a plane while flying it: Early lessons from developing charter schools.Teachers College Record, 103(2), 336-365.

Wohlstetter, P., Wenning, R., & Briggs, K. L. (1995). Charter schools in the United States: The question of autonomy. Educational Policy, 9, 331-358.

Wohlstetter, P., & Anderson, L. (1994). What can U.S. charter schools learn from England’s grant-maintained schools? Phi Delta Kappan, 75, 486-491.


Policy Briefs

 

Farrell, C. C., Wohlstetter, P., & Smith, J. (2012). Charter Management Organizations: An Emerging Approach to Scaling Up What Works. Educational Policy.1-34.

Smith, J., Farrell, C., Wohlstetter, P., & Nayfack, M. (2009).  Mapping the landscape of charter management organizations (National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance Policy Brief).  Los Angeles, CA:  University of Southern California, Center on Educational Governance.

Wohlstetter, P., Smith, J., Farrell, C., & O’Neill, P. (2009).  Maximizing effectiveness:  Focusing the microscope on charter school governing boards (National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance Policy Brief).  Los Angeles, CA:  University of Southern California, Center on Educational Governance.

Butler, E. A., Smith, J., & Wohlstetter, P. (2008). Creating and sustaining high-quality charter school governing boards (National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance Policy Brief). Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California, Center on Educational Governance.

Smith, J., Wohlstetter, P., & Hentschke, G. C. (2008). Partnerships between charter schools and other organizations  (National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance Policy Brief). Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California, Center on Educational Governance.

Smith, J., & Wells, M. J. (2006). Overview of charter school facility development and financing. In Report to the Community (Issue IV). San Francisco: Low Income Investment Fund.

Center on Educational Governance (2004). Charter school laws and partnerships: Expanding opportunities and resources (Policy Brief). Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States.

Wohlstetter, P., & Griffin, N. C. (1998). Creating and sustaining learning communities: Early lessons from charter schools (Research Report OP03). Consortium for Policy Research in Education: University of Pennsylvania.

Wohstetter, P., & Griffin, N. C. (1997). First lessons: Charter schools as learning communities (Policy brief RB-22). Consortium for Policy Research in Education: University of Pennsylvania.


Other Publications

Center on Educational Governance (2010). Charter school indicators (CSI-USC 2010). Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California.

Center on Educational Governance (2009). Charter school indicators (CSI-USC 2009). Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California.

Nayfack, M., Wohlstetter, P., & Smith, J. (2009). Charter-management organizations: A productive step forward?Education Week, 28(9),32.

Center on Educational Governance (2008). Charter school indicators (CSI-USC 2008). Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California.

Center on Educational Governance (2007). Charter school indicators (CSI-USC 2007)Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California.

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Authorizer-initiated peer reviews to facilitate open communication and lateral learning (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Creating education partnerships to meet the needs of businesses and their employees (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Developing training programs for charter school governing board members  (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Empowering parents to be change agents in charter schools and communities  (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Empowering teachers through a CMO-created union (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Enhancing charter schools through parent involvement (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Harnessing resources through mayor-authorized charter schools (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Implementing a constitutional model for school governance (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Implementing an in-house approach to teacher training and professional development  (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Preparing for the inevitable:  Planning for leadership succession at the school, charter management organization, and state agency levels  (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008). Running charter schools through a teacher professional partnership (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Taking the guesswork out of vendor selection: Minnesota’s charter school consultant survey  (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Center on Educational Governance (2008).  Using a board bank to match board members and charter schools (Promising Practice Profile).  National Resource Center on Charter Schools Finance & Governance. http://www.charterresource.org/promising_results.cfm?category=28

Sam, C., Smith, J., & Wohlstetter, P. (2008). Involving teachers in charter school governance  (National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance Policy Brief). Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California, Center on Educational Governance.

Brewer, D. J., & Wohlstetter, P. (2005). Charter schools come of age. USC Urban Ed, Fall/Winter 2005.

California Charter Schools Association (2005). A conversation with Penny Wohlstetter of USC’s Center on Educational Governance. The Charter Journal, 18.

Deal, T. E., & Hentschke, G. C. (2005). Different wine in different bottles: Entrepreneurial leaders for charter schools.USC Urban Ed, Fall/Winter 2005.

Wohlstetter, P., & Smith, J. (2004). Partnering to improve education: Lessons from charter schools. Education Week, 24(5), 30-32.

 

Address

Center on Educational Governance
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California
3470 Trousdale Parkway
Waite Phillips Hall, Room 901
Los Angeles, CA 90089-4039

Phone: (213) 740-0697
Fax: (213) 740-4184
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