Charter School: Better Results for Less

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Many public school supporters blame poor academic results on stingy taxpayers. On July 8, more evidence was released showing that funding is not the problem. Arthur Academy, a public charter school in the David Douglas School District near Portland, just announced amazing achievement results.

In business just two years, Arthur Academy saw its average first-grade reading score on the Stanford Achievement Test hit the 94th percentile. The average kindergartner’s ranking more than doubled.

The success of public charter schools knocks down many arguments against school choice. If more children apply than can attend, they must pick their students at random. They receive about 80 percent of the general funds that a district school gets, and they must find and maintain their own facilities. Arthur Academy also averages 25 students per classroom, about three fewer than its district’s average.

How does the school do so well? A commitment to academics and freedom from restrictive rules are the key. Arthur Academy uses Direct Instruction and Core Knowledge — two curricula that may not be for every child, but have worked wonders for its students. It also selects teachers committed to its core values, instead of having them assigned to the school by the district.

In the case of Arthur Academy, school choice clearly works. It should be an option for all children.

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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