The District’s charter schools ranked first in the nation in a report released Wednesday that for the first time looks at the quality of the charter school movement.
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which released the report, has historically ranked states by the friendliness of their charter school laws. This is its first attempt at evaluating how charter schools are actually performing.
“We firmly believe it’s not just enough to pass a strong law,” said Nina Rees, the president and chief executive of the Washington, D.C.-based alliance. “Now we have 2.5 million students in a little over 6,400 public charter schools. We asked how well they are doing and how they are impacting the lives of the students in these schools.”
The report measured charter schools’ performance in 25 states and the District overall, including those that enrolled at least 1 percent of public school students in charter schools and participated in a 2013 study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University which evaluated student performance in charter and traditional schools.
The District came in first, followed by Louisiana and Michigan; all three have the highest concentrations of charter schools. Nevada came in 26th, or last.
The District scored 104 out of 116 possible points in a rubric created to measure growth, innovation and academic quality.
Nearly half — 49 percent — of the city’s public schools were charter schools in 2013, and 44 percent of the city’s public school students were enrolled in the independently operated, publicly funded schools. D.C. charter schools also served a higher percentage of racial and ethnic minorities and students in poverty than the traditional public schools.
D.C. charter schools got high marks for using innovative practices, such as extended day or extended year schedules or for offering higher education courses.
The charter sector also rated well for maintaining a small, but steady closure rate for under-performing schools. Eighteen schools were closed between the 2008-2009 and 2012-2013 school years.
And the Stanford study showed that the District’s charter school students outperformed traditional public school students in some measures of academic growth between the 2007-2008 and 2010-2011 school years.
“We are encouraged to see D.C.’s charter sector and its school leaders recognized for its efforts to raise student performance, provide innovative programs and serve the neediest students,” said John H. “Skip” McKoy, chairman for the D.C. Public Charter School Board. “Our job as a charter authorizer is to make sure we foster more innovative, high-quality schools and hold underperforming schools accountable.”