Are Charter Schools a Good Option in the Gulf States?

Science student and teacher

Charter schools are widely discussed as an alternative to traditional public schools in the quest to improve K–12 education. Nationwide, charter schools will be an important element in the debate over reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — better known as No Child Left Behind.

In the Gulf States, urban school districts like New Orleans have looked to charter schools to improve the support they provide to children who often face many disadvantages. The Mississippi legislature debated HB 888, the Public Charter School Act of 2012, this spring and will likely bring up the subject again this fall. And the authorization of charter schools remains a priority for Alabama's governor and Republican leadership in the House and Senate.

For nearly two decades, RAND has been conducting research on choice-based education reforms, including charter schools. The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute developed this policy spotlight to focus attention on our objective, evidence-based research and to help Gulf States and other education policymakers make the right decisions for their communities.

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    Perceptions of Traditional and Charter Schools in New Orleans

    After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans replaced the city's existing school system with a decentralized choice-based system of both charter and district-run schools. An examination of principal, teacher, and parent surveys found many similarities between charter and traditional schools' performance but greater satisfaction among charter school parents with their children's schools, as well as more perceived choices.

    Sep 30, 2011

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    What Are the Effects of Charter Schools on Educational Attainment in Eight States?

    Along with the growth of the charter school movement has come contentious debate about its effects on both charter students and those in nearby traditional public schools. This study helps determine why previous research has drawn differing conclusions through its examination of charter schools' effect on overall educational attainment.

    Mar 18, 2009

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    Understanding the Role of Charter Schools in Improving Education

    Charter schools are increasing in numbers as alternatives to traditional public schools, and research shows some associated positive effects on student attainment. RAND recommends that the federal government support further investigation.

    Nov 17, 2009

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    Charter School Students in Chicago Enjoy Better Graduation, College Entry Rates

    Chicago's multi-grade charter high schools (those serving students in grades 7-12, 6-12 or K-12) appear to improve their students' chances of graduating and attending college, as compared with the city's traditional public high schools.

    May 7, 2008

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    What Do We Know About Vouchers and Charter Schools?

    Vouchers and charter schools are two of the most prominent and far-reaching forms of family-choice policies currently in evidence in the nation's schools. An updated version of the report Rhetoric Versus Reality takes a detailed look at what is known about the effects of school choice.

    Aug 16, 2007

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    Do Charter Schools Close the Achievement Gap in Urban Districts?

    Many urban leaders, including mayors and school district superintendents, have initiated charter schools as a mechanism of improving learning for disadvantaged students. An analysis of the effect charter schools are having in two major urban districts in California, however, shows that achievement scores in charters are keeping pace, but not exceeding those in traditional public schools.

    Oct 20, 2006