Policy Factsheet

Charter Schools

Reasons for Policy

  • Charter schools expand the variety of schools available and provide unique educational options to students in the community.1
  • Charter schools have increased autonomy and flexibility, allowing for innovation and adaptive education while promoting educational reform.2
  • Nationwide, charter schools serve a greater number of minority and low-income students.3

Community Groups

  • Local Government
  • Local School Board
  • Public University

Policy Components

  • Charter schools are more accountable than traditional schools and must report standardized academic test scores in order to renew charter contracts.
  • Charter schools close if they fail to uphold contract with the local school board4

Desired Outcomes

  • Improved student achievement5
  • Improved teacher, parent, and student satisfaction5
  • Increased parental involvement
  • Improved system of public education5

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 3: Insufficient Evidence Available.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

  • The evidence on effects of charter schools on student achievement is mixed, some high-quality studies showing positive effects and others showing negative. More research is needed. 7
  • Positive effects have been observed for parental involvement and satisfaction among parents, students and teachers. 5


  1. Nathan, J. (1996). Charter schools: Creating hope and opportunity for American education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.  

  2. Arsen, D, Plank, D, & Sykes, G (1999). School choice policies in Michigan: The rules matter. East Lansing: Michigan State University.  

  3. RPP International (2000). The state of charter schools: 2000. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.  

  4. Renzulli, LA & Roscigno, VJ (2005). Charter school policy, implementation, and diffusion across the United States. Sociology of Education, 78(4), 344-365.  

  5. Bulkley, K & Fisler, J (2003). A decade of charter schools: From theory to practice. Educational Policy, 17(3), 317-342.  

  6. Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.

  7. Miron, G & Nelson, C (2001). Student academic achievement in charter schools: what we know and why we know so little. Occasional Paper No. 41. National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teacher’s College, Columbia University.