Theses Doctoral

The High Performing Charter School Operator's Guide To Replication With Fidelity

Robinson, Marcus Cornelius

The purpose of this study was to create a manual for organizations seeking to expand from one high-performing charter school into a network of charters, while serving high-poverty populations. A well-documented critical need exists to expand quality educational options for high-poverty students. Despite legislation and investments, prior reform efforts have failed to significantly improve the academic outcomes of historically underserved Black, Brown, Latino, and low-income students. Charters schools are an important option for families seeking to expand the educational options for students whose parental incomes assign them to chronically failing schools. Despite disproportionately enrolling high-poverty students, some high-performing charter schools are excelling with this population.

The research methodology included semi-structured 1-hour interviews, site visits, and artifact review from CMO leaders, funders, and consultants of high-performing charter schools The interviews were then transcribed and coded, and seven recurring themes emerged. Data analysis involved comparing these emergent themes with previous research. Data analysis found that the high-performing charter schools serving high populations credit culture, systems, and human capital as the three main components of successful expansion. Although the order differed, every participant cited these three factors as critical to replication with integrity. Interviews, site observations, and artifacts in the current study identified the following recurring themes:

1. Culture Is Everything
2. The Model: This Is How We Do Things
3. Codification for Replication
4. Inspect What You Expect
5. Develop Human Capital
6. Operations Are the Drivers of Network Success
7. Accountability, Autonomy, Equity

The findings in the current study show a demonstrated need for replication with the participants highlighting the challenges, lessons learned, and crucial advice to future operators. The final product is a guidebook that provides charter school leaders, charter management leaders, and other stakeholders with concise information on instructional practices, school culture, curriculum, finances, and other factors that impact charter school expansion.

This manual is based on the premise that high-performing charter schools offer increased opportunities for academic success and, thus, life success for economically disadvantaged students.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Perkins, Brian K.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
November 9, 2022