Lax financial reporting makes it difficult to assess the fiscal health of California charter schools, although the limited information available suggests that many are making efficient use of their public funds, according to a study released Wednesday by researchers at USC.
In its annual report on the health of the state's charter schools, USC's Center on Educational Governance also found that charters continue to outperform traditional public schools in English instruction but, paradoxically, do a worse job of lifting nonnative English speakers to fluency. And their overall math performance has slipped, lagging behind traditional public schools.
Charters are public schools that are run independently, with only minimal oversight from school districts. There are now close to 700 charters in California, making them a significant part of the state's educational landscape, but causing strains in the capacity of districts to monitor them.
Although the schools are required to file quarterly financial reports with local districts, which in turn file them with the state, USC researchers found that data was spotty in some counties, including Los Angeles, where fiscal data was available for only 30 of 163 schools.