Back to List

The Basics on Charter Schools

September 4, 2015
  • What if Charters Don't Meet Expectations?

    Charter schools are expected to live up to the expectations established when they were authorized. If schools aren’t succeeding, their authorizer is supposed to shut them down. Eleven states have “automatic closure laws,” under which schools not meeting standards are shut down. 

    In the 2013-14 school year — the most current year for which data are available — authorizers reviewed about 20% of charter schools nationally. The authorizers renewed 79% of the charters and shut down 7%. Another 14% of decisions were pending at the end of the school year when the association surveyed schools. Overall, 3.8% of all charter schools nationally were closed in the 2013-14 school year, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. 

    Unfortunately, some failing charter schools — like failing district schools — remain open. A Fordham University study, Are Bad Schools Immortal, found that in the period studied, 72% of low-performing charters remained in operation and remained low performing after five years of persistent low performance. The same was true of 80% of district schools in the cohort studied. The study looked at more than 2,000 low-performing charter and district schools across 10 states between 2003-04 and five years later in 2008-09.


    National Alliance of Public Charter Schools: Separating Fact & Fiction: what you need to know about charter schools
    National Association of Charter School Authorizers: Infographic and other materials provided directly by the Association 
    David A. Stuit, Thomas B. Fordham Institute: Are Bad Schools Immortal? The Scarcity of Turnarounds and Shutdowns in Both Charter and District Sectors, December 14, 2010