By Jarett Fields
On average, students attending the collection of independent charter schools in Milwaukee are outperforming their peers in traditional public schools.
The CREDO study out of Stanford University found this trend to be true around the country.
By comparison to traditional public schools, independent charter schools serve higher percentages of low-income and minority students.
Still, their growth in proficiency has outpaced all other school systems.
Independent charter are growing at a steady pace and making a huge difference in cities around the country.
Much of that growth and success is due to state policies that allow quality charter schools to replicate and that allow for various authorizers, like universities, technical colleges, and other education focused entities. Wisconsin has yet to pass any such laws.
In fact, we lag behind numerous other states that have implemented policies regarding charter schools and have seen academic progress.
According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Wisconsin ranks 38 out of 43 states measured on positive charter policies.
Policies play a vital role for ensuring that quality schools are being replicated and that students have opportunities to attend schools that offer them unique instruction preparing them for careers or college in the 21st century.
Here are three reasons why independent charters are so successful.
1. Innovation. Independent charter schools can determine their own teaching structure and methods, school and academic culture, and organizational structure.
This means teachers can adjust to learning styles, use technology, and improve classroom management immediately.
Many charter schools are implementing research based, data-driven teaching methods to reach students.
Innovation is key to preparing students for careers and college. Across the country, College Preparatory programs make up 30 percent of all charter schools.
2. Alternative Licensing. Offering talented graduates in various fields the ability to instruct students is important for engaging learning styles as well as new classroom procedures.
Alternative licensing allows someone with a Master’s degree in Mathematics to enter the teaching field without having to go through an additional year or two of more schooling.
For anyone being offered an alternative license though, procedures must be in place to ensure a strong professional or academic background in the field.
In plain terms, an alternative license would allow Bill Gates to teach computer software courses at an elementary or high school since he does not have a teaching degree or certification.
3. Performance-based Pay. Some independent charter schools have started performance-based pay for teachers, administrators, and some staff.
This type of pay structure is not solely based on student test scores but the culmination of other measures too.
Homework, exams, and lesson plans for example. For those showing growth and improvement among students in a variety of areas, they become eligible for increases.
Given the limited funds independent charter schools have to operate with, efficiency with regard to spending is pertinent to success and sustainability.
Overall, Wisconsin has room to grow concerning our independent charter schools.
Embracing independent charters as an additional public option at the state level will lead to better policies that offer our families quality education around the state.