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State Report Shows Colorado Public Charter Schools Outpacing Their Peers

Having been long-winded the past couple days, I will keep this Friday posting short. But in case you missed it, please check out this week’s K-12 radio podcast interview, as Colorado League of Charter Schools president Jim Griffin breaks down the Colorado Department of Education (CDE)’s latest report on the state of charter schools.

The report highlights four trends:

  1. “Charter schools continue to serve larger numbers of students and offer a wide range of options.”
  2. “Charter schools currently serve a population more similar to state averages than in years past, but still lag behind in numbers of special education students enrolled.”
  3. “Teachers and administrators in charter schools earn less than peers in non-charter settings.”
  4. “In 2012, charter schools in Colorado generally outperformed non-charter schools on state performance measures.”

Put together #2 and #4, and what do you have? Growing evidence that the public charter sector is driving some small improvements for student learning. (Dig into the pages for more relevant details.) Please note that not all charters better than non-charters. Each sector has its lot of good and bad actors. But struggling charters can be closed down or corrected in ways their counterparts cannot.

After 20 years of Colorado’s charter school law, we’re seeing more signs of success. But there’s nothing magical about the hard work and innovation that create better results in the aggregate for charters. Just that they have the freedom and flexibility to pursue that opportunity more effectively. And for significantly less funding per pupil, which affects what charters can pay their instructional staff (see #3).

Sure, the CDE report isn’t as indicative or overwhelming as the recent study on KIPP schools proved to be. Nor should anyone be close to resting on their laurels. But the trend line is clear and distinct, and tells us that charters can and should play a major role in helping to lead Colorado toward educational excellence.

I’ve already gone long on this beautiful Friday. If you want to learn more, you’ll have to listen to the podcast discussion.