In 2014, the first public charter schools opened in Washington state. The development led to years of controversy, but the debates often bypassed the opinions of people with important experience: parents of enrolled students. To begin to remedy this, we conducted a mixed-methods study that asked parents how they selected their student’s charter school, how they perceived their student’s school, and areas they thought could be improved. This brief reflects the opinions of parents who participated in our survey and focus groups during the 2021-22 school year.
The findings include:
- Most parents were very satisfied with their child’s charter school.
- Parents often sought out charter schools after difficult experiences in traditional public schools.
- Parents valued charter schools offering more one-on-one attention and a supportive environment.
- Parents cited a few areas for improvement: reducing staff turnover, increasing school resources, increasing community outreach about charter schools, and lowering neighborhood violence.
The brief also raises questions about the next best steps the schools can take to better work with parents and to strengthen their footing in the state.