Nothing New: Curricula in Arizona Charter Schools
ROBERT T. STOUT AND GREGG A. GARN
Among the claims made by Arizona charter school advocates was that charter schools, freed from bureaucratic constraints placed upon district schools, would provide significant curricular innovation. Advocates claimed that creative individuals of all persuasions and from all sectors would produce an enormous richness of school choice. In turn, Arizona would become a national repository of new and exciting ways in which schools could address the twenty-first-century needs of children and young adults. The ideas planted and germinated in Arizona, the argument went, would be transplanted to district schools and even to other states.
We conclude in this chapter that the claim for curricular innovation is not supported by current data. We also conclude that evidence of significant improvements in achievement among students in charter schools is absent at present. Although time may alter our conclusions, the current status of innovation in charter schools is not favorable for charter school advocates.
This chapter is based on evidence from five sources: (1) the applications of the first 50 charter schools, filed with and approved by either of the two state agencies authorized to grant charters; (2) the 1996-1997 Annual Report of the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction; (3) the annual report cards filed with the Arizona Department of Education