WHAT ARE CHARTER SCHOOLS
Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools that have the flexibility to be more innovative and are held accountable for student achievement. Below are more facts about Colorado's charter schools
Charter School Facts:
- Charter schools are public schools.
- Charter schools do not charge tuition.
- Charter schools use non-discriminatory enrollment practices.
- There are no "test-in" requirements to attend charter schools.
- Currently, nearly 66,000 students attend the 160 charter schools in Colorado. This amounts to approximately 8% of total K-12 public school enrollment in the state.
- Charter school students must take the CSAP.
- Charter schools are subject to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
- Charter school teachers must be "highly qualified" under NCLB.
- Charter schools serve a broad range of diverse students, including low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, and students with disabilities or other special needs.
- Colorado charter schools continue to attract a variety of students and are located in diverse geographical areas across the state.
- Charter school programs and academic designs are as diverse as the students they enroll. Some charters implement longer school days, while others implement curricula specifically designed for at-risk students, gifted children, pregnant/parenting teens, juvenile offenders, and more.
Colorado Charter School Demographics:
Statewide data regarding the 62,000+ students enrolled in charter schools in 2008, demonstrates diversity comparable to statewide data on traditional public schools. Currently:
- 38% of Colorado charter school students are minorities compared to 39% of the state's K-12 public school students.
- Of the 62,000+ students enrolled in charter schools in 2008-09:
- 62% are white (not Hispanic)
- 25% are Hispanic
- 8% are Black (not Hispanic)
- 4% are Asian or Pacific Islander
- 1% are American Indian or Alaskan Native
Evidence of the strong academic performance of charter schools is provided by both federal and state measures of student achievement:
- In 2009, Colorado's charter schools outperformed the state's non-charters in the percentage of schools with strong enough academic performance to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Specifically,
- 85% of charter elementary schools made AYP, compared to 73% of non-charter elementary schools.
- 81% of charter middle schools made AYP, compared to 49% of non-charter middle schools.
- 36% of charter high schools made AYP, compared to 34% of non-charter high schools.
Charter School Funding
The academic success achieved by charter schools is especially impressive in light of the financial challenges they face:
- On average, charter schools in Colorado spend $480 per student from designated per-pupil operating revenue on facilities costs.
- School districts finance their facilities using property tax, mill levies, and taxpayer-backed bonds. Charter schools generally do not receive a proportionate share of these monies. As a result, money often comes out of the classroom to pay for buildings.
Common Myths About Charter Schools
MYTH: Charter schools “drain money” from district public schools.
FACT: Charter schools are public schools, therefore the money that follows the students who choose to attend charters remains in the public education system.
MYTH: Charter school teachers are not licensed.
FACT: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) does not require that a charter school teacher have a teaching license, but charter schools are required to comply with all other NCLB requirements regarding “Highly Qualified Teachers.” This provides charter schools the freedom to hire the most qualified and committed teachers who come from diverse professional backgrounds and are passionate about teaching.
MYTH: All charter schools have long wait lists, I have no chance of getting my student in.
FACT: When enrollment requests exceed the number of seats available, most charter schools hold a public lottery to determine who will attend giving everyone an equal chance to be enrolled (other charters may have first come/first served waiting lists).
MYTH: Charter schools accept only the “cream of the crop” and reject under performing students.
FACT: Charter schools may not limit admission to pupils on the basis of intellectual ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, or athletic ability. Charter schools are open to all and may not require entrance exams. When enrollment requests exceed the number of seats available, most charter schools hold a public lottery to determine who will attend (others have first come/first served waiting lists).
MYTH: Charter schools endanger the public school system.
FACT: Charter schools are a relatively new and innovative part of the public school system. The entire public school system is strengthened when choices such as charter schools are available to students and families. When families are empowered to make decisions about their child’s education, ownership, parental involvement and accountability are increased.
MYTH: Charter schools are not open to all students.
FACT: Charter schools serve a broad range of diverse students, including low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, and students with disabilities or other special needs.