Date of Award

Spring 4-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Second Advisor

Dr. Terry Reid

Third Advisor

Dr. Kevin Kopp

Abstract

In 1998, Missouri‟s two largest school districts, St. Louis and Kansas City, had become, in the eyes of many, completely dysfunctional. In court-ordered attempts to end desegregation and improve academically, each district built costly and extravagant magnet schools; however, low test scores and high dropout rates continued. These problems, and others, would cause both districts to lose their state accreditations in the next ten years. In an effort to put the focus back on student learning and force these districts to improve, Missouri lawmakers passed Senate Bill 781. This bill allowed charter schools to open and operate within the Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri, school districts. These tuition free, self-sufficient, public schools create a contract, or charter, between themselves and a sponsor outside the district umbrella. Charter schools have become the greatest educational experiment in the last two decades attempting to improve what has come to be seen as a failing public education system. The charter school movement continues to gain popularity as states, including Missouri, open additional charter schools despite very limited research measuring their effectiveness. This causal comparative research study examined Missouri charter school performance factors including academic performance, dropout rate, graduation rate, and rates of enrollment in post-secondary colleges and universities. Each factor was analyzed using a mixed study design by applying quantitative research methods including data comparisons between charter and non-charter public schools. Qualitative methods included interviews with key charter school stakeholders. The findings of this study were largely inconclusive; however, as one of the few research studies specific to Missouri charter schools, established a starting point for future research.

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