Case Study Review and Development of Questionnaire
There is in existence a plethora of research that has been conducted on the long-term effectiveness of charter schools. Much of the research shines negatively on charter schools and their ability in retaining students on a long-term basis. It appears that these alternatives to public education are, at best, average, however, their performance over the long-term decreases exponentially. This work will review the research that has been completed in relation to charter schools and synthesize the findings in the form of a questionnaire that can be used to gather information from parents, educators, administrators, and community members related to the charter school in Tennessee. This work will present the questions posed in this study and explain the rationale for the development of the specific questions. Finally this work will make provision of methodologies that are used in the research.
A number of possibilities exist for the poor performance of charter schools but many conclude that a substantial part of the difference is due to high student turnover in these schools. According to Bracey (2005), "the attrition rate is much higher in charters than in regular public schools. That rate declines with the number of years that school has been open, but even charter that have been open for five years lose almost twice as many kids as their public school counterparts" (p.555).
Case Study Review and Development of Questionnaire
Charter schools operate under a contractual agreement with a chartering entity which may include a state agency, local board of education, universities and others. The chartered school is not bound by the public system rules and regulations however there is increased accountability for students in terms of achievement and outcomes. Depending on the statutory provisions that rule the district of the chartered school can be formed by various groups or individuals such as educators, parents, community members, groups that are both for-profit and for non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education as well. During the years of 1998-1999 there were 1,100 charter schools existing in approximately 34 states with over 250,000 students attending.
The movement of reform was fast-moving throughout the country. Eighty percent of Charter Schools have reported barriers related to such as a lack of start-up funds, inadequate operating funds and inadequate facilities to be the three largest barriers in developing and implementing their Charters. These fiscal and resource barriers are in the development and implementation of the Charters. Growth that is pressurized within a Charter School results in deteriorating facilities, and efforts to reduce class sizes, are utilizing an innovative option in addressing the demands for facilities or Charter Schools.
The Charter Schools are independently operated and this is true of the majority of state, local and district rules and regulations The Charter School is smaller in comparison to the public schools with medium enrollment rosters of approximately 150 students. More than 60% of charter schools enrolled fewer than 200 students as compared to 16% of traditional schools.
The research method in this study will be that of review of available relevant peer-reviewed literature that is related to the subject of charter schools.
According to a Washington Post new report (Wells, 2005) entitled "We Must Rethink Rhetoric Behind Charter Schools" there has been" three major reports ... In the past five months ....released showing charter schools performed more poorly than public schools on the same tests" Further stated is that the one most recently released "issued this month by the Education Department presented a re-analysis of data from the National Assessment of educational Progress comparing outcomes for charter and public school students on these national exams [which] echoed NAEP finding released in August by the American Federation of Teachers.
Yet another report, released reluctantly by the Education Department this fall, looked at state exam data in five states and came to the same conclusion." (Wells, 2005) Charter schools are the creation of a visionary or a group of individuals that is mission-driven and all individuals in the group know what the mission is what the group stands for and stands in firm commitment to that vision. Many of the schools began from 'scratch' with little in the way of funds to support their beginnings. The structure of the mission-driven school is one that is ambitious and is a structure that is based on the function of service.
It has been argued by those in educational policy and legislators that charter schools will produce high quality and varied innovation as well as changing other schools within the district due to the innovative results. Further purported is that the achievement of foster students is higher in the charter school than in the traditional school. The Charter schools have the autonomy to effectively hire staff that fits its' specific program base. The development of the questionnaire takes into consideration the necessity to include questions that relate to teachers, students and parents alike.
Internal accountability standards include the weekly teacher sessions, end-of-term comprehensive exams and other such activities which is part of the design of constantly improving the charter school in the realm of teaching and learning. A yearly analysis of progress is also part of the effort of refining curriculum and instruction utilizing the data from the students towards the end of making instructional changes. Another important aspect of the Charter school is the partnering with parents and community that occurs. Due to the fact that the Charter School represents schooling "choice" the school is empowered to create a connection between the school and home environments. Parents are engaged as "authentic partners at many different levels." (U.S. Charter Schools 2005)
Charter Schools are characterized by a mix of diversity in terms of instructional models, the students and the staff. There has been noted to be an increasing lack of satisfaction with public education resulting in many movements for reform and improvement. Frustration exists among teachers, parents and other stakeholders who believe that the system is in need of restructuring. (Wohlstetter and Griffin 1998)
1. "What effects of funding strategies and economic barriers have been personally witnessed in the Charter Schools?
2. "Do you believe that investing in facilities and maintenance for school-grounds will provide payoffs of this investment?
3. Has the market-based school reform been successful?
4. Is the student-to- teacher ration better at the Charter Schools than the traditional schools?
5. How are needs in terms of special staff priorities? (i.e. teachers, had teachers, staff specialists, school nurse, social worker, counselor, high school college placement director, parent, liaison, translator, special education resource specialist and librarian.)
6. Internal accountability is the method used toward improving teaching and learning. What difference in accountability has been witnessed in Charter Schools vs. traditional schools?
7. Does staff commitment appear stronger among teachers in Charter schools than those in private schools?
8. Are the retention rates in relation to teachers higher in the Charter Schools or in the traditional schools?
9. Does the mission statement focus on student achievement in core curricular areas?
10. Does the plan specify the material and practices that will be used to teach?
11. How will this be provided during the course of the school development process?
12. Accountability plan. Which assessment strategies and which performance standards will be used to evaluate success?
13. What problems has the charter school experienced from funding and what has been done within the community to answer that need?
14. Are parents of students at Charter Schools as involved as parents at the traditional school in terms of attendance to functions and volunteering in projects of the school?
15. Does it appear that the charter schools have pulled the best students from the public schools?
16. Do charter schools enhance student achievement and public education in general?
17. How will differences between charter school accountability and public school accountability impact education policy and practices?
18. What requirements are teachers held to meeting for employment in the Charter Schools?
19. Does this District offer medical or dental insurance to teachers?
20. Does this District offer retirement to its' teachers?
21. Are schools in this District required to participate in school assessments?
22. Have any schools within the District been awarded for achievement standards in the last two years and if so what were those awards?
23. Do the schools in this District assist with the professional development of teachers?
24. Does this district provide the following professional development opportunities for
a. School or District Administrators?
b. Include coordinators, supervisors, principals, directors, superintendents, and school
c. board members
d. Administrative internships
e. Training in management techniques
f. Training in evaluation or supervision
g. Training to use technology for planning, budgeting, decision-making, or reporting.
h. Training about advances in curriculum, teaching, or assessment.
i. Formal networking opportunities for personnel with similar responsibilities
j. Reimbursement to attend local, state, or national conferences?
k. Funding for university or college course work
l. Opportunities to serve as mentors within the district