10 Characteristics of Successful Charter Schools

The most innovative charter schools study the principles of informal learning to teach their kids. Lucky them. It sure beats the daily grind of structured learning I hated so much as a youngster.

Since lack of good schools are the main reason why people with children are repelled by the city, here’s a quick look at how to reverse that trend – the 10 Characteristics of Successful Charter Schools, by Sarah B. Cunningham, Director, Education Assessment and Charter School Accreditation, The American Academy for Liberal Education, crafted specifically for CoolTown Studios. This is an abridged version, the full version is here.

1) Strong charter law – without charter laws that support the opening of schools it is very difficult to get the charters going.
2) A clear, decisive, written mission, a mission reviewed by the school community on a regular basis as the school develops. The goals must be achievable and realistic.
3) Supportive charter authorizer – These are the folks that approve the charter and review the charter, usually around a 5 year renewal mark.
4) Positive climate for school choice � often supported by community members with libertarian sentiments – the local support for school choice makes a big difference in terms of the school clearing a variety of hurdles.
5) Facilities and properties that serve the mission of the school – very difficult to obtain and, as a result, the cause of the DOE building grants for charter schools
6) Committed administration, principal, faculty, families and Board members, willing to stick it through the first couple years of chaos while the school gets its feet on the ground.
7) Association with experts who provide consultation (on a national basis) with regard to curriculum and school development.
8) Willingness to engage in external evaluation, like Charter School Accreditation at AALE (American Academy for Liberal Education) to improve school systems.
9) Positive teacher recruitment and teacher development programs: recruiting teachers is becoming more difficult and – because they work so hard to start a school – current faculty sometimes burn out and move on.
10) Political savvy – related to the financing, obtaining local buy-in (including students), acquiring a charter and teacher recruitment.

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