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Charter schools are booming nationally. With 443 charters opening in 2009-10 alone, they grew 6.2 percent during that school year, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

But this growth isn’t enough, some say — while others are quick to remind us that not all of the new charters are of high quality. Oft-cited research from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford found that only 17 percent of charter schools in the country significantly outperformed their traditional public-school counterparts. These top charter schools reached about 272,000 children in 2009-10, according to the Progressive Policy Institute. To put that in perspective, about 50 million children are enrolled in U.S. schools — 10 million of whom live in poverty.

“The number of children served by the best charter schools is far to low,” concludes a new report by the Progressive Policy Institute. The paper, “Going Exponential: Growing the Charter School Sector’s Best,” outlines several ways that high-quality charters can grow even faster based on successful private-sector practices.

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Sarah Butrymowicz oversees and contributes to The Hechinger Report’s investigative and data work covering all levels of education, from early childhood to K-12 to higher education. She has worked at...

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