Honors Theses

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Public Policy Leadership

First Advisor

Melissa Bass

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

Charter schools are a fast-growing trend in alternative education policy across the United States. As of the 2015-16 school year, seven percent of public schools were charter schools. Between the 2000-01 and the 2015-16 school years, the total number of charter schools across the United States increased by approximately 350 percent. In some states, up to nine percent of students are enrolled in a charter school (National Center for Education Statistics, 2018). In 2013, Mississippi signed into law the Mississippi Charter Schools Act of 2013, allowing for charter schools to enter the field of public education in the state. The aim of the study is to predict the long-term, overall impact of charter schools on traditional public school districts in Mississippi by examining similar districts to those in Mississippi with established charter schools, identifying trends in those districts, and assessing whether or not similar impacts likely would be felt in Mississippi’s traditional public school districts. This qualitative study interviews traditional public school district and charter school officials in Jackson, Mississippi and Clarksdale, Mississippi as well as officials from similar districts across the country in which charter schools have been present longer. The findings of this study reveal that the long-term, overall impact of charter schools in Mississippi remains open, but largely can be shaped by public policy that (1) encourages communication between charter school and traditional public school officials; (2) (when establishing new charter schools) accounts for the number and enrollment in traditional public school districts from which the charter school would likely draw its students; and (3) promotes charter schools that begin at early grade-levels, prior to a student’s entrance into the traditional public school system.

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