Charter Sector Overview

Charter schools are public schools with increased flexibility to develop their education programs to best meet the needs of the students they serve. In exchange for their increased flexibility, charter schools are held strictly accountable for their performance. Illinois charter schools are serving high need students, and many are putting their graduates on a path with opportunities to succeed well beyond graduation. While we are a statewide organization, limited data is available for charter schools outside Chicago at this time. Future iterations of this page will include more data for charter schools outside Chicago.

Operations Benchmarking

Charter schools are committed to attracting, growing, and retaining the best teachers in the country. Funding inequities make it challenging for charter schools to compete with their counterparts in the market for teachers.

Compare Teacher Salaries

Demographics

Charter schools in Chicago serve the students who need improved educational options the most.

Who Charter Students Are

Since 2008, enrollment in Chicago’s charter schools has increased by almost 100% with an additional 22,400 charter schools students in the city, while enrollment in other non-selective schools has fallen by approximately 5%, a decline of 17,700 students.

Relative to other public schools in the state, charter public schools in Illinois serve a dramatically higher proportion of African American, Hispanic and low-income students.

Relative to other public schools in Chicago, charter schools serve a larger proportion of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch (FRL), a larger proportion of African-American and Hispanic students, a comparable proportion of Special Education students, and a smaller proportion of English Language Learners (ELL) students.

Who Charter Students Are

Academic Performance

Charter schools are changing the game and raising the bar on the academic achievement of high needs students. Charters challenge the status quo and are helping to raise expectations of our public schools.

How Charters Are Doing

Click here to see Chicago charter school performance over time on the ACT

Access CPS Data

Charter schools are also at the head of the class in terms of gains from the 9th grade Explore exam to the 11th grade ACT exam. Comparing scores from 2011 9th graders and 2013 ACT 11th graders, 19 of the top 20 non-selective public schools in Chicago are charter schools. On average, charter school students and other non-selective school students enter 9th grade with an average Explore score of 14, but charter students experience almost 2 points more growth by the time they take the ACT. In fact, charter student average point growth is approaching that of students in selective schools.

In addition to strong charter school performance at the top of the ranks as exhibited by the top 10 chart above, all charter school students outperform their peers in other non-selective public schools on average on the 11th grade ACT. Use the interactive feature below to drill down into the performance of priority groups across school types on different subjects of the test.

In 2012, the rate at which charter school students are making expected gains from their 9th grade Explore to their 10th grade Plan and from their 10th grade Plan to their 11th grade ACT almost matches that of students in Chicago's selective public high schools.

How Charters Are Doing

Pathway to Success

Education is not just about test scores. High school graduation and college enrollment help to prepare students for long-term economic independence. Charter schools in Illinois are putting students on a path to realize their dreams.

Impact of Charter Schools

For the past three years, the graduation and drop-out rates of charter schools have approached those of selective schools and vastly out-performed other non-selective public schools.

Additionally, for the past three years, the percent of charter school graduates enrolling in college far exceeded the percent of graduates attending college from other non-selective schools.

In the fall of 2013, Chicago Public Schools released College Persistence rates for all schools for the first time. As the enrollment rates would have suggested, Chicago's charter school graduates are persisting through sophomore year in college at higher rates than their peers in other non-selective public schools.

Impact of Charter Schools

The Work is Not Done

Though charter schools in Chicago and Illinois are changing the lives of the families they serve, they still face many challenges. Equitable funding that levels the playing field for charter public school students is essential for charters to continue to deliver results in a sustainable way.

Challenges Remain

Many believe that charters can rely on alternative sources of funding to bridge the gap in funding relative to an average district-run school; however, charter schools are generally only able to close 40% of the gap.

CPS operating cost per pupil vs. funding from CPS to charter schools

CPS operating cost per pupil vs. funding from CPS to charter schools

This disparty in funding makes it hard for charter schools to compete in the market for teachers. Charter school teachers make an average of $21,496 less than other public school teachers in Chicago.

Staff with 1-3 years experience make up more than half of the charter school teacher population…

Staff with 1-3 years experience make up more than half of the charter school teacher population

…However, this does not explain the gap: disparity exists at every experience level

However, this does not explain the gap:  disparity exists at every experience level

What would it take for you to give up 30% of your salary?

The same dynamic plays out across all districts in Illinois with charter schools present, where charter school staff make $29,384 less than their counterparts.

Again, staff with 1-3 years experience make up more than half of the charter school teacher population…

Again, staff  with 1-3 years experience make up more than half of the charter school teacher population

…Yet, compensation discrepancies exist at every experience level

Yet, compensation discrepancies exist at every experience level
Challenges Remain

How we did our analysis

This section includes a discussion of our data analysis methodology and definitions of key terms used throughout the tool.

Methods and more