Charter Schools:

A Growing and Diverse National Reform Movement

T-HEHS-95-52: Published: Jan 19, 1995. Publicly Released: Jan 19, 1995.

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GAO discussed the growing movement toward charter schools, focusing on: (1) charter schools' instructional innovations, autonomy, and accountability systems; and (2) challenges charter schools pose for federal programs. GAO noted that: (1) states have approved 134 charter schools developed by teachers, school administrators, parents, and private corporations; (2) charter schools have diverse and innovative instructional programs that focus on multiage classes, teaching subjects within a theme concept, and using Internet as an instructional tool; (3) some charter schools specialize in certain subjects, while other charter schools target specific student populations; (4) charter schools' autonomy varies among the states based on their legal status, approval, funding, and exemption from rules; (5) it is too soon to determine whether charter schools will meet their student performance objectives; (6) the major challenge for federal programs is whether those charter schools that are legally independent of their school districts can be considered local education agencies (LEA) for program administration purposes; and (7) states have taken different approaches to address charter schools' status as LEA, but the Department of Education intends to encourage states to develop legal arrangements that best support state and local purposes.

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