I heard it again this evening. People tend to believe that all charter schools are like the one near their home or the one they heard about from a friend. But not all charter schools are the same--nor are many of them even similar!
In Montrose there is a charter school for pregnant and parenting teens. Several charters serve adjudicated youth and one is a residential youth detention facility. There are numerous charter schools in rural Colorado where otherwise students would be on the bus for several hours a day. Many of these rural charter schools use a "place-based" curriculum that ties what the students are learning to what is available in the community. In the tiny town of Crestone, there is an experiential charter school that complements the Core Knowledge/ranching community/K-12 district-operated school.
It's true that almost half of the charter schools in Colorado use the Core Knowledge curriculum. This leads many people to believe that all charter schools require students to wear uniforms and focus on rigorous academics. The truth is, not all Core Knowledge charter schools even require uniforms.
Each state has their own unique charter school idenity, however. Colorado is known for slow, steady growth with a focus on increasing student academic achievement. We've always believed that charter schools should be able to educate students better than their neighborhood school. While not all charter schools perform well academically, charter school students outperform noncharter public school students on CSAP in grades 3-8, according to the last state evaluation of charter schools.
In the next year there will be a study done of Colorado charter schools, first categorizing them by their educational program and student population. Next, three years of CSAP scores for students in charter schools over the three year period will be analyzed to see which of the five categories of schools performs the best. A fourth year of CSAP data, available in August 2008, will be included in the analysis when it becomes available to make sure the data is consistent with the original findings. This charter school typology study will be completed late 2008.