From the Field

Bridging the District-Charter Divide to Help More Students Succeed

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While animosity remains the norm in many communities, a growing number of districts and charter schools are realizing that they must work together for the benefit of students and families. The Center on Reinventing Public Education interviewed leaders in 23 urban districts who are working jointly to improve instruction, align policies, address inequities, or find operational efficiencies.

The districts, who have formalized their partnerships by signing District-Charter Collaboration Compacts supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have seen significant policy “wins” for students and families, including:

  • Replacing chronically struggling neighborhood schools with high-performing charter schools.
  • Citywide common enrollment systems to address some of the burdens of choice.
  • More equitable and transparent discipline practices in both sectors.
  • Coordinated cost-sharing systems to provide students with special needs greater access to choice and innovative practices.
  • Common accountability tools that allow families as well as district and charter administrators to track school performance across a city regardless of who governs that school.

The report includes concrete recommendations on how to facilitate such collaboration.