Paper Sample: Charter Schools Versus Public Schools in Chicago

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1874 Words
Date:  2021-04-09

Educational facilities running under the charter system have been have been experienced increased subscriptions in time from their inception. These educational facilities like their counterparts the traditional public schools run through funds commissioned by the government through their geographical districts. Since the introduction of the first charter school back in 1992, their purpose has been to offer an alternative system of education that provide a higher level of choices in regards to education to parents thereby increasing competition which in theory is supposed to better improve the education sector while at the same time being accountable to the public. Their purpose and the rising trend has then necessitated the debate on whether charter schools have resulted to an improvement in the results of students in comparison to the older system that is runs alongside them. This has resulted in laws in regards to charter school education being constituted in more than 40 States. This system as of 2016 had around 2.9 million which constituted more than 5% of the total population of the students under the public school system. In this review we shall look at studies done on the charter system in Chicago, the challenges that the system faces and finally the economic and racial segregation that the schools have experienced.

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Studies done in the past and currently offer contradicting results, some of which have come to the conclusion that charter schools have reported similar results as those of the traditions system, other studies have concluded that in some states these schools have lower performances. However, some states have reported better performances but by small margins. This then begs the question if at all charter schools are performing as was expected when they were commissioned. The varying results as a result of the different studies done in time has then made it harder to conclusively determine the viability of this system as was envisioned.

Charter schools have the freedom to determine their own curriculums, their budgets, and such matters as the length of their school week. This fact gives them a higher level of autonomy that their counterparts public schools (Abdulkadiroglu et al. 2009). However, with this autonomy, they are also accountable to the public in regards to their finances and their academic results. This comes as a result of the contracts or charters they have with the government. In regards to the charters and the performances of the charter schools, the contracts are reviewed on a regular basis and they can either be revoked or renewed depending on the outcomes they have. In the United States institutions such as special boards, higher education institutions, agencies in the education sector and the districts are mandated with granting of charters and in essence reviewing the same which follows renewal or revoking of the contracts (Zimmer et al. 2008).

The laws in different districts that govern the operations of these schools do not require that they operate under a predetermined system that sets the curriculum or the philosophy of the schools including their school week or school activities (Finnegan et al., 2004). This fact leads to the differentiation of one charter school to another as they serve different communities and each one of them have formulated their own system to cater for the community they serve (OBrien et al., 2010). The differences in the programs that each charter school runs have in hence resulted to providing different choices of which the parents of students can choose to enroll their children. This is supported by the fact that the schools are free of charge to any student (Crane et al. 2007)


In Chicago, Illinois charter schools were officially authorized to operate in 1996. The provision that saw the emergence of these schools initially only provided contracts to only 15 institutions. However, the charter schools that were within the law to diversify into different regions through campuses and most of them opened up different campuses within the district of Chicago. The initial number of 15 institutions was held constant up until when the clause was changed to allow for a higher number of 30 institutions in the year 2003. Chicago board of education is the only institution mandated with the provision of providing charters or contracts in Chicago, Illinois. The board has the power to either renew or revoke charters in regards to the institution's performances or their financial management. Accountability ensures that the public funds are not embezzled and that students get quality education.

Chicagos charter schools have the freedom to employ teachers who are not certified by the district, this follows the fact that the Chicago district collective bargain agreement does not apply to the schools. As is with public schools in Chicago and the whole of United States, funding is done per student and this essentially means that the charter schools have to negotiate the amount they get from the district per student. The funding then passes through Chicago Public Schools (CPS) charter office, which is also mandated with monitoring charter schools operations in regards to the regulations and laws passed in the state of Illinois. The review on each institution, done by the CPS on a yearly basis, then determines if the licenses are to be renewed or revoked. In Chicago, Illinois, the law requires that charter schools offer an open enrollment system that allows for any student to apply. In the situation where a school gets more applications for enrolment than it can admit, a lottery is offered. The lottery system then ensures that the most deserving students are admitted to the school (Lake and Rainey, 2005).

Following the increase in numbers of students enrolling in the schools, there has been a necessity to figure out if at all charter schools essentially outperform their counterparts the traditional public schools in Chicago Illinois (Hill et all. 2006). The debate basically hasnt borne many results owing to the facts that charter schools operate different across the district and as such we find varying results in terms of their performances. Further, the fact that much data that we find is from studies done by people opposing the charter school systems such as the opponents and not the evaluation is not done by independently, this essentially leads to the study being ineffective as it should be and the results henceforth dont paint a clear picture of the actual situations on the ground (Betts et al. 2008).

Following this finding, then we can clearly see that the evaluation methods henceforth employed to determine the viability and the performances of these schools in Chicago have not been able to paint a clear picture on whether the system is working as planned or not. The studies done in regards to the charter system could be misleading.

Chicago Charter Schools Evaluation Problems

Evaluating these schools on the basis of the results of the performances when a student enrolls to thereafter becomes problematic owing to the fact that the only provision for the entry is the choice of a particular parent (Nicotera 2009). This follows the laws that govern the system which essentially allows for any parent to enroll their child to any charter school of their choice without the consideration of the students prior performances. This then brings about the possibility that the motivation to transfer a student may, in essence, have an impact on the students performance. Without the control of the selection on enrollment to charter schools, it then becomes difficult to have a proper way to evaluate the end results of the shift from the traditional public systems. This then leaves us with a narrow field of comparison that determines the performances in reference to the time a student spends in a charter school rather than an evaluation that would base its findings on the initial motivation that led to the transfer of such a student from their previous learning institution (Booker 2008).

However, some researches have a more robust system of evaluation. These studies have bordered their studies on the results of randomized analysis and longitudinal experiments analysis. Through the first method of random data collection, a study has been done to compare and contrast the outcome in performances of such learners who got admission to the schools after a lottery was conducted in an institution in Chicago which happens when the charter school is oversubscribed as provided by the law and those who were not enrolled through the lottery system. This study has not brought out conclusive results because the comparison becomes problematic when we find schools that were not oversubscribed, it would not be prudent to compare data that is not comparable. A longitudinal analysis, on the other hand, tends to compare the differences of a students performance after they transfer from their prior learning institutions and the subsequent changes in performances. The longitudinal analysis is not conclusive because it cannot be used to find the results of the students who do not move from one system to the other (Sass 2006).

The next problem is determining a proper evaluation of the rate at which students leave one system and in this regards study data shows that more students leave the charter schools system and that most of the students that leave are mostly the ones that perform poorly (Bracey 2005). The facts that henceforth come from this data could mean that some findings that conclude the charter system having better performances that those of their peers could owe their outcome to the fact that lowly performing students leave at a higher rate only leaving the well-performing students (Vaznis 2009). This, in essence, could raise the average performance deeming the charter schools as better performers that the traditional public schools. Therefore, this makes it harder to conclusively determine whether the performances of charter schools owe their high average scores to the systems and the programs therein or to the fact that low performers leave quite often (Henig 2008).

Through their findings, many researchers have discovered that most of the charter schools in Chicago are unique and as such, it becomes hard to essentially determine their performances as an aggregate group (Miron et al. 2007). It becomes clear that some institutions in the charter system are better performers but keeping in mind that some studies show otherwise. It becomes even harder to determine and focus on a particular charter school system in regards to its policies or programs to essentially determine the outcome of all charter schools as one entity (Loveless 2010).

Performance Differences between the two Chicago Education Systems

Research done in regards to the performances of students enrolled in the charter system and their counterparts has been done extensively. These studies have yielded different results which show the diversity of this matter. Some studies show that Charter schools performance has yielded positive results, some show that the charter school systems have yielded negative results and essentially some have determined that the system has yielded no results whatsoever. In time, some of this studies have had the advantage of being covered by the media but that has mostly resulted in criticisms of the methods that were applied in data collection, evaluation, and analysis. This leads to the precaution that this results should be cautiously viewed and determined.

Data collected in regards to the charter school systems in Chicago Illinois by RAND Education Research team in 2008 was essentially used to determine the performances of high school students attending charter schools, the 8th-grade stu...

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