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Home » Press Releases » Charter Schools Closure Rate Tops 15 Percent

Charter Schools Closure Rate Tops 15 Percent

CER Press Release
Washington, DC
December 21, 2011

Refuting assumptions and statements by opponents and proponents alike about the state of America’s charter schools, The Center for Education Reform released today an unprecedented analysis of and data documenting the high level of accountability that marks the nation’s charter schools. The report, The State of Charter Schools: What We Know – and What We Do Not – About Performance and Accountability, finds that charter schools historically have experienced a 15 percent closure rate.

The report is the first-ever national analysis regarding the number of charter schools that have closed since 1992, the basis by which authorizers ensure performance-based accountability.

“All too often, supporters and opponents of charter schools claim that bad charter schools don’t close,” said Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform. “The truth is charter schools that don’t measure up are closing at a rate of 15 percent. Regrettably, the same can’t be said for traditional public schools.”


• Of the approximately 6,700 charter schools that have ever opened across the United States, 1,036 have closed since 1992. There are 500 additional charter schools that have been consolidated back into the district or received a charter but were unable to open.

• There are five primary reasons for charter closures – financial (41.7 percent), mismanagement (24 percent), academic (18.6 percent), district obstacles (6.3 percent) and facilities (4.6 percent).

• Most charter schools that close for financial or operational deficiencies do so within the first five years, or within their first charter contract. Failing to produce audits, or conduct basic, required oversight is a sure sign that the charter school leaders are not capable of leading a strong organization. Academic closures usually take longer because it takes the whole charter term to gather enough sound data and make proper comparisons.

• The correlation between strong charter school laws, accountability and effective charter schools cannot be emphasized enough. Independent authorizers have full control over how they evaluate charter schools and have their own staff and funding streams. This enables them to create streamlined, effective tools to manage their portfolio of charter schools and close those that are not living up to their contract.

”The quality of charter schools in the U.S. is not as simple as saying ‘there are too many bad charters out there,’” said Allen. “The real story about charter school closures and accountability is that strong state charter laws and strong authorizers give schools a better chance at success because they hold them accountable and can offer them tools to succeed.”

Access FULL REPORT here.