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This dissertation examines how three successful urban charter schools are using key elements of charter school autonomy---budgets, staffing, curriculum and instruction, and school culture---to bridge the achievement gap between African-American and White students. The research design rests on four assumptions: (1) Schools have the capacity to be effective in bridging the achievement gap; (2) Standardized test scores provide a useful measure of the effectiveness of individual schools in bridging the achievement gap; (3) As a result of their autonomy---defined as freedom plus accountability---charter schools are uniquely positioned (i.e., differently positioned than district schools) to implement effective practices; (4) Decisions about budgets, staffing, curriculum and instruction, and school culture contribute to the effectiveness of three urban charter schools in bridging the achievement gap. Case studies are constructed from published documents, interviews with school leaders, and focus groups with teachers, parents, trustees, and students, using four research questions: (1) How, if at all, do these schools allocate their resources to advance student achievement? (2) How, if at all, do these schools recruit, support, evaluate, and retain school staff to advance student achievement? (3) How, if at all, do these schools develop, assess, and refine their curricula to advance student achievement? (4) How, if at all, does each of these schools cultivate and sustain a student, parent, and staff culture to advance student achievement? A cross-case analysis reveals that while individual practices vary significantly, a common set of hypotheses about the culture necessary to bridge the achievement gap drives decision-making: (1) a culture that teaches that effort yields success; (2) a culture of high expectations that shapes student beliefs; (3) a disciplined culture that yields a physically and emotionally safe context for learning; (4) a culture built on relationships that yield trust; and (5) a culture of excellence in teaching that challenges and inspires. The dissertation discusses implications for practice and policy, and calls for further research into life within high-performing charters, the differences between high-performing charters and other schools serving similar populations, and the role of school leaders in fostering the cultures within high-performing charters.