A charter school is an independently funded and operated public institution that is exempt from specific state rules and regulations. This type of educational facility can be formed by parents, teachers, municipalities and community leaders by submitting a proposal to their state’s authorizing organization. In return, the school must meet certain guidelines and curriculum and be accountable for academic results. Charter schools must meet performance goals as they are periodically reviewed by the jurisdiction. If the imposed expectations are not met, the institution may be closed.
The escalated freedom extended to charter schools combined with increased accountability forces the schools to go through the rigorous application process to receive a charter. Once a charter has been awarded, the school has the opportunity to create and control its own core mission, curriculum and methods of teaching. It also has the freedom to organize its own budget and hire staff.
Charter schools typically serve minorities and children from low-income families and students are usually accepted by public, random lottery. The education at charter schools is tuition-free, as the facilities are funded by public donations, grants and federal categorical programs on per pupil basis. Capital funds are not available to any of the charter schools.
A highly structured learning environment is created at charter schools. Because many charter schools focus their attention on particularly high-risk students, special structured format of curriculum has been developed to understand how these students perceive their social, educational and future career possibilities. Charter schools work with researchers to assess what matters most to the teachers, parents and students it serves. The feedback is fully reviewed and analyzed to determine what programmatic adjustments may be needed.
Students at charter schools are expected to meet and exceed the expectations outlined within the curriculum. The key attributes include exceptional academic performance achieved in part by longer school days, longer school years and greater homework loads.
Many students attend this type of school because they face personal difficulties which make their learning experience challenging. Others may have failed in a traditional public school setting, while many more seek alternative venues of education for a variety of reasons. Because these students face so many obstacles, one of the primary concerns addressed by charter schools is the high drop-out ratio. Educators in charter schools receive step-by-step guidance and ongoing workshops aimed at helping them contribute to increased student retention.
The ultimate goal of all charter schools is to set high academic standards and help the students in achieving them, while complementary programs are practiced to prevent students from failing. In addition, faculty training and collaboration is one of the highest priorities to ensure reaching the outlined objectives. Supplementary educational aids, such as books written by teachers for teachers, are shared by schools where different practices have already been implemented and tested with documented success. Trained educators, consultants and colleagues working at charter schools communicate with each other through seminars and other methods in efforts to improve the existing programs and develop new ones to ensure the success of each institution.