National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Archives - North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools

Dispelling Misconceptions about Public Charter Schools

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Misconceptions about public charter schools abound. As a recent national poll discovered, even some public school teachers are unaware of some basic facts about charter schools. (Read more about that on the Coalition blog.) Fact: Charter schools are public schools. They’re free for students to attend, and they’re open to all. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is tackling common misconceptions head-on (as is the Coalition!). We have some great resources to share.

  • Here’s one: Listen to a podcast with David Griffith, the associate director of research at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.
  • Here’s another: View a sidebar comparison of the differences between district and public charter schools.
  • Explore the Coalition’s new online resource: An About Charter Schools web kit.
  • Watch our video introduction to charter schools from State Superintendent Catherine Truitt below.

New National Poll: ‘Listen to Your Teacher’

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A new report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools explores teachers’ views on K-12 education, with some notable findings. Titled “Listen to Your Teacher: An Analysis of Teacher Sentiment on the State of Public Education,” the report includes poll findings from over 1,200 public charter and district school teachers. While many teachers are tired–and concerned about students–charter teachers report more durable motivation and higher levels of job satisfaction.

The Alliance released some of the poll findings in a sneak peek memo earlier this summer. (Read a Coalition blog post about that memo.) But this week’s report also provides in-depth analysis, and comes at a time when concerns are rising about teacher attrition. In fact, citing analysis from Chalkbeat of six states–including North Carolina–the Alliance notes that “more teachers left in 2021–22 than ‘at any point on record.'”

Some key findings about teachers overall

  • Most teachers support public school choice (78% of district teachers and 87% of charter teachers).
  • A majority of teachers are weary and worried: 58% are worried or anxious, 67% are burned out, and 72% are overwhelmed.
  • Teachers are quite concerned about students: 84% said student mental health is “at an all-time low.”

Key findings about charter school teachers

  • Charter school teachers are more likely to be satisfied with their work: 97% of charter teachers vs. 83% of district teachers.
  • They’re also more likely to report steady or increased motivation to teach. Seventy-nine percent of charter school teachers say they are as motivated–or more motivated–to teach than when they first started, compared to just 34% of district teachers.
  • Charter school teachers are less likely to consider leaving. More than half, 52%, have “never considered leaving the profession,” compared to 20% of district teachers.

Misconceptions and information gaps persist about charter schools

The report also highlights some surprising gaps in information. In particular, many teachers do not know that charter schools are public and free.

  • A majority of district teachers, 52%, don’t know that charter schools are free. The same is true of 43% of charter school teachers. Moreover, 51% of district teachers don’t understand that charter schools are public, along with 38% of charter school teachers.

Source: “Listen to Your Teacher: An Analysis of Teacher Sentiment on the State of Public Education,” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, August 9, 2023.

As the Alliance notes,

These widespread misunderstandings about charter schools, even among teachers who work at them, seem to indicate that more and clearer public discussion about the unique features— and benefits—of charter schools is needed.

Download the full report here.

National charter group: Top takeaways from Stanford study

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Analysis of Stanford’s landmark CREDO study, revealing impressive learning gains for charter students, continues to accrue.  Yueting (Cynthia) Xu of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has developed an excellent list of seven top takeaways from the study. We’ve covered results from the CREDO study in some earlier posts (here and here), but one finding, highlighted in Xu’s post, deserves special attention. Not only does it affirm the value of the charter model for student performance right now, it also offers reason for even greater optimism as the movement continues to grow. Why? As Xu notes:

The charter school sector is demonstrating improvement over time.

From 2009 to 2023, charter school students consistently demonstrated substantial positive learning gains. In the 2009 CREDO study, charter school students showed less growth in reading (6 days less) [and] math (17 days less) compared to their district school peers. In the 2013 study, charter school students had stronger learning growth in reading (6 more days) and similar learning growth in math compared to their peers in district school. In 2023, charter school students gained an average of 16 additional days of learning in reading and 6 extra days of learning in math.

… This latest report from CREDO is one of the strongest pieces of evidence of charter school success in recent history. Between the 2009 and 2023 studies, amidst stagnant overall performance across the nation, the trend of learning gains for students enrolled in charter schools is both significant and positive. These results show that “the framework of charter schools helps current students and strengthens public education overall.

Read more about the CREDO study in the Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine.

Report: Charter Schools More Likely to Serve Alternative Education Students

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A new issue brief from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools highlights a little-known facet of the charter movement: Charter schools serve a disproportionately higher share of alternative education students, compared to other schools. While such students come from a range of backgrounds, they share a common and consistent risk factor: They face higher odds of dropping out of school than other students.

The issue brief, released in June, evaluated alternative education campuses (AECs) in 34 states in 2021-22.

Some topline findings:

  • Of the nearly 2,800 AEC campuses nationwide, 555, or 20%, are public charter schools.
  • Charter schools serve 7.2% of public school students nationwide, but enroll 42% of students in AECs.
  • In North Carolina, 11% of AEC students attend charter schools (see p. 29 in the Appendix). Overall, charter school students comprise around 9% of the state’s public school students.

Screenshot from: “Going the Extra Mile: An Overview of Charter School Alternative Education Campuses,” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, June 9, 2023.

Key demographic factors and proficiency rates, according to the brief:

Most AEC students (95%) are enrolled in grades 9-12, 74% are students of color and 47% are Hispanic or Latino. Sixty-eight percent of charter school AEC students are economically disadvantaged. Despite the odds being stacked against many students, the average proficiency rates among charter school AEC students are slightly higher than those of their district school counterparts in both English language arts and math.

The brief also included 2020-21 graduation data from 10 states. In these states, graduation rates rose more rapidly in charter AECs (comparing four-, five-, and six-year cohort graduation rates). However, charter AEC graduation rates were slightly lower overall, compared to non-charter AECs. The brief suggests that “policies need to be broadened to include a wider range of information about student outcomes to understand the performance of schools like this.”

Read more:


Congressional lawmakers want to boost funding for Charter Schools Program

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Funding for the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) may get a boost. Congressional lawmakers are proposing an additional $10 million for CSP, which provides grants for new charter schools as well as charter school replication and expansion across the country. Program funding has not increased in recent years.

Nina Rees, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, released a statement about the proposed funding increase, which is in the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee’s FY 24 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Bill. She noted:

All students and families deserve access to a high-quality public education. We thank the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee members for recognizing the value and educational opportunity public charter schools provide to families across the nation with an increase of $10 million to the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) and by providing important new flexibility for state program operators. The program, which has been flat funded for four years, expands opportunities for students.

Read the bill text here.

New survey highlights job satisfaction of charter teachers

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A new survey from The Harris Poll and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reveals important insights about the views and motivations of teachers today. The Alliance commissioned the survey to examine trends in light of current teacher shortages and to assess teachers’ views of public education. Of particular note: Charter school teachers seem more satisfied with their jobs and working conditions than district teachers, and they have maintained this sense of fulfillment over a long arc of time and despite challenging circumstances in recent years.

“Listen to Your Teacher” poll assessed views of over 1,200 teachers

Pollsters queried 1,211 public district and public charter school teachers between May 10 and May 30, 2023. Results are only available in a sneak peek memo, with full findings coming in August. However, here are some of the top takeaways on teachers’ perspectives:

  • Most teachers, 97%, don’t believe the public really understands the rigors of their jobs.
  • Almost 40% have considered leaving teaching–either in the past or by the end of the year.
  • Teachers view student behavior/discipline and pay as their top challenges.
  • Nearly 8 in 10, or 79%, of all teachers say public school choice is important for families and teachers.

See an overall infographic from the Alliance below:

Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, “Listen to Your Teacher” (Sneak Peek Memo), June 20, 2023.

Charter school teachers report higher satisfaction and fulfillment

However, something different is going on with charter schools, according to the Alliance. Charter school teachers report more satisfaction and fulfillment than district teachers. For instance, according to the poll:

  • 97% of charter school teachers are satisfied with their jobs, compared to 83% of district teachers.
  • 79% of charter school teachers say they are as motivated–or more motivated–to teach than when they first started, compared to just 34% of district teachers.
  • 90% of charter school teachers feel valued by their school’s administration, compared to 68% of district teachers.

See the infographic from the Alliance below regarding charter teachers:

Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, “Listen to Your Teacher” (Sneak Peek Memo), June 20, 2023.

In a press release, Debbie Veney, the senior vice president of marketing and communications at the Alliance, said this about the charter findings:

It looks like there is something interesting happening in charter schools and it’s helping to create conditions for happier teachers who can keep their motivation high, even in tough times. These findings suggest there might be practices in charter schools that could be replicated to better support teachers in other kinds of schools.

New report: Federal Charter Schools Program & ROI

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A new report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools highlights the tangible return on federal investment in the Charter Schools Program (CSP). Released earlier this month, the report outlines numerous ways the CSP has helped bolster the charter movement nationwide.

Small investment–but big impact

Funded at $440M in FY 2023, the CSP accounts for less than 1% of all federal spending on K-12 education. Moreover, as the Alliance notes, the CSP is “the only source of dedicated federal funding to support the creation, expansion, and replication of public charter schools.” Yet its impacts are big.

In a press release, Nina Rees, the president and CEO of the Alliance, said:

This report explores the impact of the CSP on communities around the country, and makes the case for increased funding for the program. In the report, we explain the charter school model, offer a brief history of the CSP, profile inspiring grantees, and address persistent misconceptions. Charter schools are a vital part of the public school ecosystem, and by advocating for the CSP, we can help more students access a public school that meets their unique needs.

Read the full report.