Report: Federal charter grants linked with school sustainability

By October 13, 2022 News

A new report finds that charter schools with support from federal grants are less likely to close than schools without such funding. That’s the key takeaway from the new study, conducted by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report now goes to the Secretary of Education and congressional committees for review.

Charter schools with federal CSP support are less likely to close

In general, GAO notes that charter schools were unlikely to close. But nationwide, those that received support from federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) grants had better odds of staying open than those that did not. Here’s how GAO sums up the study findings:

While few charter schools closed overall, charter schools that received CSP awards closed at lower rates than similar charter schools that did not receive an award between fiscal years 2006 and 2020. GAO’s analysis found, for example, that within five years after receiving CSP awards, CSP-recipient charter schools were about 1.5 times less likely to close than similar non-CSP charter schools—with an estimated 1.4 percent and 2.3 percent closing, respectively. Within 12 years of receiving CSP grants, the same pattern generally held.

This chart from GAO illustrates comparative data.

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, “Charter Schools That Received Federal Funding to Open or Expand Were Generally Less Likely to Close Than Other Similar Charter Schools,” October 2022.

National debate over the Charter Schools Program

Findings come amid considerable debate over the Charter Schools Program. Earlier this year, for instance, the Department of Education proposed burdensome rules that elicited significant pushback. The Coalition, along with numerous other charter supporters, advocated against the proposed rules. In response, the Education Department made some modifications, although final requirements remain problematic. Read more on the Coalition blog here, here, and here.

GAO study and CSP resources