Charter Schools and Accountability in Public Education

December 2002

Charter schools are among the most debated and least understood phenomena in American education today. At the heart of these matters is a contested question of accountability.

Aimed toward elected officials, school reform activists, and educators, this book is the result of the first national-scale study of charter school accountability. The authors researched one hundred-fifty schools and sixty authorizing agencies in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Michigan. These states contain the majority of charter schools that have been operating for three years or more and represent the major differences in state charter school legislation.

The authors include interviews from a range of participants in the field from state legislators and administrators to principals, teachers, and parents. In assessing the structure of accountability as it works internally to bolster external confidence, Hill and Lake suggest the struggle of charter schools actually complements those of standards based reform. Both seek to transform public education to make schools responsible for performance, not compliance.