- Charter School Outcomes in California
Authors: Ron Zimmer, Richard Buddin
National Conference on Charter School Research
This chapter summarizes a series of studies conducted over the last four years that evaluate the effectiveness of California charter schools. More than 210,000 students now attend about 550 charter schools in California—the largest charter sector in the nation. What makes California important to the overall charter debate is the array of charter schools within the state. In California, some charters are “conversions” and others are “startup” charter schools. Conversion schools previously existed as traditional public schools and they typically retain an existing facility as well as faculty and students when they become charter schools. Startup schools, by contrast, are new entities that acquire facilities, faculty, and students at their inception. In addition, the motivation to start charter schools may differ between these types of charter schools with conversion schools becoming charters to reduce their bureaucracy from the districts and to change specific educational programs while startup schools may be initiated to create a new holistic approach to schools, including curriculum programs, instructional practices, governance structures, and overall mission of the schools. California charter schools also use two distinct instructional approaches—most rely exclusively on instruction in traditional classroom settings, but some make extensive use of nonclassroom settings, such as homeschooling, independent study, and distance learning.