Cap, Talent Pipeline, And Facilities Funding Among Factors Prohibiting State Charter Sector From Achieving Scale

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

“Yes” vote on statewide ballot initiative could attract more quality charter management organizations

BOSTON – Raising the cap, strengthening teacher and school leader pipelines, and revising facilities funding are among the key factors if Massachusetts is to succeed at bringing its charter school sector to scale, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

“Gold-standard research demonstrates that Massachusetts charter public schools are among the nation’s best,” said Dr. Cara Stillings Candal, author of “Massachusetts Charter Public Schools: Best Practices in School Expansion and Replication.”  “But many of these high-performing charters are small ‘boutique’ schools.”

Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and SABIS are the only charter networks operating in Massachusetts that are also present in other states.

While it’s not unusual to see some individual schools struggle, research shows that charter management organizations (CMOs) have continued to produce better results than local school districts as they achieve scale.

The biggest reason there are so few CMOs operating in Massachusetts is the existing charter school cap, which prevents the organizations from achieving scale.  The percentage of school spending that could go to charter schools was doubled in low-performing school districts in 2010, but some districts were already approaching the new cap by 2013.  Demand was so great that the state imposed a moratorium on new charter applications during the 2011-12 cycle.

The 2010 cap lift also excluded new CMOs because any additional charter seats were available only to “proven providers” that were already operating at least one successful charter school.

This dynamic could change if voters approve a statewide ballot initiative in November that would allow up to 12 new charter schools to open each year in low-performing districts.

In addition to the cap, Massachusetts is a small state with fewer students than states like California and Texas in which CMOs are more active.  There is also little incentive to expand beyond urban areas here because other public schools generally perform well.

The availability of high-quality teachers and school leaders can also be a key constraint for CMOs looking to expand.  While Massachusetts has a wealth of colleges and universities, many of which have strong teacher preparation programs, it also has shortcomings.

There is a lack of diversity among those working in schools.  A 2014 Boston Globe review found that Massachusetts school staffs were 92 percent white.  There are also educator pipeline problems in the commonwealth’s largest districts, which tend to have high rates of poverty.

And while Massachusetts generally has an equitable charter school funding system, that doesn’t extend to capital money.  Unlike traditional public schools, charters have no access to the local municipal tax base or to funds from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.  Instead, they receive only a small per-pupil stipend for facilities.

About the Author: Cara Stillings Candal is an education researcher and writer. She is a senior consultant for research and curriculum at the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education and a senior fellow at Pioneer Institute. She was formerly research assistant professor and lecturer at the Boston University School of Education. Candal holds a B.A. in English literature from Indiana University at Bloomington, an M.A. in social science from the University of Chicago, and a doctorate in education policy from Boston University.

###

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

Get Updates on Our Charter Schools Initiative

Match Charter Residency Program Effective Teacher Training Model

Report Finds Match Charter Residency Program an Effective Model…

Matching Students to Excellent Tutors

Research Finds Match Charter-Like Tutoring Programs Should Be…

Urban School Models Forum to Feature Pulitzer Prize Winner, Fmr DC Mayor

Pulitzer Prize Winner, Former D.C. Mayor, Two Former State Education…

Celebrating 20 Years of Education Reform in Massachusetts

Birmingham, Weld Oppose MA Adopting Common Core, Call for Lifting…

Improving the Charter School Authorization Process

NEW STUDY FINDS ABOLISHING CAPS AND A MORE AUTONOMOUS CHARTER…

Preserving Charter School Autonomy in Massachusetts

New study recommends re-establishing an independent state Charter School Office (CSO), raising the statewide charter cap, and providing charter operators with the support they need to start and run a school.

Exploring Jewish Day Schools in Massachusetts

/
A new Pioneer Institute study of Jewish day schools in Massachusetts calls for the creation of an education tax credit program to ensure that children have the widest possible access to the schools their parents choose for them.

Pioneer Forum to Focus on SABIS® and the Role of For-Profit Charter School Management Companies

/
Pioneer forum on SABIS® and the Role of For-Profit Charter School Management Companies.

POLL FINDS LIKELY MASSACHUSETTS VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY FAVOR MORE SCHOOL CHOICE

Likely Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly support educational choice, according to a poll conducted by David Paleologos’ firm, DAPA Research, for Pioneer Institute.

No More Know Nothing Laws: School Choice in Massachusetts

Pioneer Institute hosts event with national education reform experts Kevin Chavous and Jay Greene, releases new research on Catholic and Jewish Schools

Four Models of Catholic Schooling in Massachusetts

/
Author(s): Cara Stillings Candal, Ed.D. — Publication date:…

Facilities Guide for New and Expanding Charter Schools

New report offers best practices from successful Massachusetts charter schools to help other charter leaders navigate the facilities development process

Expanding School Choice through METCO

Non-partisan Research Groups Urge Lawmakers to Expand Minority Students’ Access to METCO Program

Dumping Massachusetts’ Know-Nothing Amendments: Church, State, and School Reform

Pioneer released a research paper on Massachusetts Catholic schools, giving them high marks for providing a high-quality education and a safe learning environment for poor and working-class families at a substantially lower cost than the average public school’s per-pupil expenditure.

School Choice Models and Public School Reform

/
School Choice Models and Public School Reform Event to feature…

Higher State Charter Caps: A Small Step in the Right Direction

/
HIGHER STATE CHARTER CAPS A SMALL STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION New…

The Know-Nothing Amendments: Barriers to School Choice in Massachusetts

/
Barriers to School Choice in Massachusetts Author(s): Cornelius…

School Choice Without Vouchers: Expanding Education Options Through Tax Benefits

/
Authors: William Howell and Mindy Spencer Date: October 2007…