As of the 2017-18 school year, 809 rural charter schools nationwide serve approximately 256,000 students. Though that’s only about one tenth of all charter schools and students nationwide, it represents substantial growth over the last decade.
Despite the growth, charter schools aren’t always a viable solution to a rural community’s education needs. They can negatively impact the enrollment and finances of local school districts, resulting in the closure or consolidation of long-standing community institutions.
But that’s not always the case. There are some rural communities where charters can and do work.
My team and I recently conducted in-depth case studies of four rural charter schools that are outperforming state and district averages in reading and math. Each of these schools serve a diverse student body. I have a piece in EducationNext today that discusses three factors that seem to facilitate the success of these rural charter schools:
- The founders, leaders, and/or board members of these schools have deep ties to the local community.
- These rural charter schools were founded as an explicit remedy to a gap in the community’s education offerings.
- These rural charter schools maintain consistent leadership and/or engagement with school founders.