More than 20 years into public charter school implementation, the U.S. experience offers many lessons to help inform South Africa and other countries about how to achieve the best possible results with charter school policies. Along with significant areas of success, there have been significant missteps and midcourse corrections that others could avoid with thoughtful policy and practice. This paper first describes what policymakers and advocates hoped to achieve through charter school legislation and how implementation has gone. It then describes what results are evident to date and summarizes what research suggests makes some charter schools more effective than others, including how policy and governance can support significant numbers of quality charter schools. The paper was commissioned by the Centre for Development and Enterprise for the report THE MISSING SECTOR: Contract Schools: International experience and South African prospects, available here.