What is a Charter School?
A charter school is a tuition-free public school that controls its own curriculum, staffing, organization, and budget. Charter schools are designed to deliver a unique program tailored to meet the needs of the students they serve. In exchange for their autonomy, charter schools must deliver the academic results they have promised in their charter contract.
Is a Charter School a Public School?
Yes. Tennessee’s charter school law states that public charter schools are part of the state public education system and receive public funding through the Basic Education Program.
Who Can Attend a Charter School?
Charter schools are open to the all students, including students with special needs.
Who Governs a Charter School?
Each charter school is governed by a Board of Directors, which operates independently from the local school district. At the school level, a school leader or principal serves as the primary administrator.
How Do Charter Schools Differ From Traditional District Public Schools?
Although Tennessee charter schools are public schools, there are important differences. Generally, charter schools operate on three principles:
Accountability: Charter schools are evaluated on how well they meet the student achievement goals established by their charter contract. Charter schools must also demonstrate that they can meet rigorous fiscal and managerial standards. If a charter school cannot perform up to established standards, it can be closed by the charter authorizer, which is the local education agency (LEA).
Choice: Charter schools give families an opportunity to choose the school that best suits their child’s educational well-being. Moreover, teachers, staff, and the principal have an opportunity to create and work at schools where they have the power to directly shape the learning environment and atmosphere that best serves their students.
Autonomy: While charter schools must adhere to many of the laws and regulations that govern traditional district public schools, they are freed from the bureaucracy that often diverts a school’s energy and resources away from the mission of the school. As a result, charter school leaders can focus all of their efforts on setting and reaching high academic standards for their students.