Charter Schools Likely to Grow

Article excerpt

Is it a better option? Will students learn more, test better? These questions continue to linger around charter schools and charter districts.

While there is no definitive answer, what is certain is that charter schools help answer a demand of the No Child Left Behind Act. Charters are one option for students in low-performing schools who want to transfer to better schools. Already, policy makers in California, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania have created charter districts. Charter schools exist in 40 states.

"I see more charter schools being created over the long term," says Todd Ziebarth, governance program director at the Education Commission of the States, which has created Nuts & Bolts of Charter Districts, a document to help districts create such schools. "It's really trying to give people and schools ownership of a school, which is important in this era of accountability," he says.

In charter schools, students have to meet state standards at the least. But schools can have higher standards. Some charter schools serve students who don't test well so these schools try to create meaningful accountability standards beyond tests scores, Ziebarth says.

Although Chicago is not a charter district, it does have 17 charters serving 10,500 students, or 2 percent of the total Chicago public school student population. …