Who are Washington’s charter public schools serving, and what results are they delivering?

Washington’s charter public schools do not have special eligibility or entrance requirements, and they are built on the belief that every student should have the chance to go to a great school that puts their needs first, regardless of zip code, income, or ability level. If more students want to attend a specific charter school than there are spaces available, enrollment is determined by a random lottery.

Fact: Washington’s charters attract and serve higher percentages of systemically underserved students, and employ 3 times the percentage of teachers of color, as compared to the statewide average.


 Demographic Group Statewide Average Charter Average  
Students Eligible for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch 46% 59%
Students of Color 47% 62%
Students Receiving Special Education Services 15% 16%
English Language Learners 12% 13%
Teachers of Color 12% 34%

Source: OSPI (Accessed September 10, 2019). Washington State Report Card

Results are “promising but not yet definitive”

A 2019 study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) summarized the performance of Washington’s charter public schools as “promising but not yet definitive…given the limited years of data available.”

The study found that students at Washington’s charter schools received 165 and 189 more days of reading and math, respectively, as compared to the learning they would have had in traditional public schools.

Washington State Report Card shows gains for charter public school students

Per OSPI, in 2018-19, students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch outperformed their state and/or district peers in at least one subject area at seven of the eight charter public schools that administered statewide tests.

Moreover, Every single charter school that has been operating for two or more years has shown typical to high growth for its students as compared to the state average for growth.

And a follow-up analysis conducted by the Washington State Charter School Commission showed that on average, median rates of growth were higher at Commission-authorized charter public schools, as compared to the schools that students would have been assigned, based on their home address.

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