Do students learn more in charter schools than they would have learned in other schools? Although it is an important question, there is no easy answer. Charter schools are different by design, so making broad generalizations about their effectiveness is difficult. The laws and policy under which charters exist are almost as varied as their possibilities for governance and academic programs. We cannot draw a bottom line about charter school effectiveness, or say much about how they can improve, until we take into account these variations and how they shape the work of adults and children in the classroom.
This is the introductory report from the "Inside Charter Schools" initiative, a multi-year, federally funded study of the people and work of charter schools. The report lays out the the main areas of focus for the study—learning more about charter school teachers and leaders and studying charter school instructional programs—and identifies key research questions and goals.