What are charter schools?

Charter schools are independent public schools that provide another education option to parents and students. They were created to give educators and parents the freedom to innovate and develop successful teaching models to increase student achievement. Because a charter school is not managed by the local school district, it is free to design the environment it believes will best serve students’ needs. 

High-quality charter schools are making a difference. Across the country, charter schools are associated with higher proficiency rates in math and English, as well as higher rates of high school diploma attainment. 

Charter schools don’t charge tuition and don’t require any entrance exams or interviews. All children who live within a charter school’s district, including children with special needs, are eligible to attend a charter school on a space-available basis.

Why are they called charter Schools?

Because the plan for each school becomes its charter, subject to approval by the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE).

What makes charters public schools?

A public school is defined as a school that is open to the public, funded by the public and accountable to the public. Charter schools meet all three tests. They must be open to all students on a space available basis including students with disabilities or limited English proficiency. Charters cannot select students based on skills, ability or past performance, have a selective admissions policy, charge tuition, and or have a religious focus or affiliation.

What makes charters schools of choice?

Charter schools are just one more option for parents to choose from when making decisions about what’s best for their child and the child’s educational needs and learning style. Not every option is going to be the best fit for every child. That’s why having a choice among various schools becomes an important advantage for parents.

Who can start a charter school?

Educators, parents, community leaders, educational entrepreneurs and others design charter schools. Founders of charter schools must include at least some teachers and parents who live in the school district where the charter school will be established.

What makes charter schools independent?

Charter schools are not bound by the rules, oversight and policies of the local school district. That means they can be free to have a longer school day or school year or offer programming that it thinks best suits its students without having to get permission from a local school board, which are many times elected. In other words, charter schools can keep politics out of policies.

Who funds charter school facilities?

Charter schools do not receive funding for their facilities and cannot access the funds available under New Jersey’s public school construction program. Charter schools pay for their facilities out of their operational budgets supplemented by fundraising efforts.

Can charter schools be closed?

If a charter school fails to meet the objectives of its charter or to comply with state education standards, the school can be closed or subjected to intermediate sanctions. The fact that charter schools can be closed is unique to public education.

How are charter schools monitored?

In New Jersey, charter schools are comprehensively reviewed and renewed by the DOE after an initial four-year period and afterward in successive five-year periods and are subject to annual financial audits and reporting requirements with periodic program reviews.

Do charters meet New Jersey core curriculum standards or take standardized tests?

Charter schools are required by law to meet the same academic standards and assessment requirements adopted by the New Jersey Board of Education for all public schools.

Do charter schools get funding for special needs students?

Yes. Charter schools also receive 100% of state and federal categorical aid attributable to individual students for such needs as special education, early childhood programs and bilingual programs, again distributed through their local districts.

*For more FAQs, please visit www.njcharters.org

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