Charter School Performance

Students in Washington's charter schools outperform their public school counterparts, as shown by standardized tests and the District's tests in reading and mathematics. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that in 2003, D.C. charter schools had lower scores in reading and mathematics than public schools; however, charter-school students outperformed public-school students in both subjects in 2005 and 2007. Some attribute charter schools' relative success in the district to their ability to "tap into private donors, bankers and developers has made it possible to fund impressive facilities, expand programs, and reduce class sizes".

Charter schools have been particularly successful in educating children from low-income families, who comprise two-thirds of the District's public-school student population. This success has been attributed to charter schools' ability to experiment with a variety of educational approaches and their reliance on strategies known to help poor children academically: longer school days, summer and Saturday classes, parental involvement and a "cohesive, disciplined culture among staff members". District of Columbia records show that charter schools have better attendance and higher graduation rates than public schools, and teachers at charter schools are more likely to be considered "highly qualified" than teachers at public schools.

Charter schools report annually to their chartering boards on their academic progress and finances. Charters are recognized for 15 years before renewal, although charters may be revoked at any point if there is financial mismanagement. Failure to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for five years may also result in revocation of the charter.