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Knowledge Base

Charter Schools: Helping Those Who Need It Most

What is a charter school?

A charter school is an independently run public school granted greater flexibility in its operations, in return for greater accountability for performance. The "charter" establishing each school is a performance contract detailing the school’s program, students served, performance goals, and methods of assessment.

Are charter schools all the same?

No. Charter schools can vary a great deal in their design and results.

What is a Charter Management Organization (CMO)?

A Charter Management Organization is a network made up of three or more schools under the same management. Students enrolled in CMO schools tend to do better academically than those in independent charter schools or district public schools because CMOs identify and replicate what works across all of their schools.

What is the difference between a charter school, public school, and private school?

Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning that families choose them for their children. They operate with freedom from some of the regulations that are imposed upon district schools. Charter schools are accountable for academic results and for upholding the promises made in their charters. They must demonstrate performance in the areas of academic achievement, financial management, and organizational stability. If a charter school does not meet performance goals, it may be closed.

Private schools, on the other hand, are self-funded and primarily rely on tuition, grants, donations, and endowments. They are completely autonomous and can offer curriculum not regulated by state standards.

How are charter schools funded?

Charter schools are public schools. Like district public schools, they are funded according to enrollment (also called average daily attendance, or ADA), and receive funding from the district and the state according to the number of students attending. Charter schools are not allowed to pick and choose their students. If their applications are oversubscribed, they typically hold a random lottery to decide who is admitted.