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Latino State News

1 in 10 Students Don’t Return to Charter Schools After One Year

According to state records, 11 percent of charter school students left in 2009.

While a comprehensive analysis has yet to determine why students leave the charter schools, many believe it is due to the fact that charter schools have stricter rules to adhere to than that of traditional schools.

An investigation by Catalyst Chicago and WBEZ revealed the following:

•  About one out of every 10 charter school students (2,700 out of 24,659) who were enrolled in 2009 either transferred to another school or otherwise failed to return in the fall of 2009, according to the Illinois State Board of Education Charter School Annual Report. (That number does not include students who left CPS.)

•  Traditional schools do not have comparable statistics. But an internal CPS memo provides evidence suggesting that students are more likely to leave charters: Between November 2008 and November 2009, 20 percent of students from traditional schools transferred out, compared to 26 percent of charter students, according to the memo. The memo also states that students who transferred were more likely to have lower test scores.

•  Charter schools expelled 146 students in 2009, or 5 of every 1,000—a higher rate of expulsion than traditional schools, which posted an expulsion rate of 1.5 for every 1,000 students. (See chart.) In 85 percent of charter school cases, students were expelled for less serious offenses that are not eligible for expulsion under CPS rules. Once expelled, charter students are sent back to their neighborhood school by the district’s Office of Adjudication.