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Flexibility For Accountability: Why Charter Schools Succeed


Published: December 20, 2017

Charter schools are thriving in areas underserved by traditional public schools due to their framework of flexibility for accountability. They are granted flexibility to design and run schools in order maximize student achievement in exchange for being held accountable for their students’ performance. Charter schools have to improve in order to survive. Those that do not perform well need to be removed in order to expand high-performing schools.

Discussion Questions

  1. What advantages does do charter schools enjoy that public schools do not?
  2. Why have we seen an increase in charter schools in recent years?

Additional resources

  1. Read “L.A. could learn a lot about charter schools from the Big Apple” by Margaret Raymond, available here.
  2. Read “It’s Time to Get Serious About Charter School Quality” by Margaret Raymond, available here.
  3. Read "How Well Are Teachers Doing? by Margaret Raymond, available here
  4. For much more, visit:
View Transcript

Why is it that charter schools continue to improve student achievement...even in the most under-served areas?

The answer is in the way they’re structured: Charter schools operate within the policy framework of flexibility for accountability.

They’re granted the flexibility to design and run schools for fixed periods of time. In exchange, they must be transparent with their academic and financial performance, and most critically, meet performance standards to stay open.

It’s this policy framework that allows educational outcomes to improve for students. Charter schools can make changes as they learn what works best; traditional public schools don’t have this flexibility.

The other part of the equation is accountability. Student achievement is tied directly to whether the school is allowed to continue operating, so charter schools are highly motivated to show improvements in student performance.

It is crucial to close charter schools that are not performing well. Removing the ones that fail opens the opportunity for better schools to take their place.

And that is one of the most important innovations to public schools in decades.